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Bush junks Merkel climate plan

Heiligendamm (Germany), June 6 (Reuters): The US offered assurances today that its plan for fighting climate change would not undermine UN efforts but ruled out agreeing to deep cuts in greenhouse gas emissions at a G8 summit.

“This will fold into the UN framework,” Bush told reporters of his plan announced last week to arrange talks by the top 15 emitters of greenhouse gases with the aim of agreeing to long-term cuts by the end of 2008.

Washington also said it would oppose a push by German Chancellor Angela Merkel to agree to sharp cuts in greenhouse gas emissions at the meeting of leading industrial powers also expected to tackle issues including missile defences and Africa.

Many European nations had expressed concerns that Bush’s plan might hijack UN talks on a global deal to replace the Kyoto Protocol, the main UN plan for cutting emissions of greenhouse gases,which runs till 2012.

Prior to meeting Merkel for a lunch at the start of the June 6-8 summit on Germany’s Baltic coast, Bush said the US would serve as a bridge for the various approaches to dealing with climate change.

Merkel, chairing the annual meeting of the Group of Eight (G8), had hoped to secure US backing for a pledge to halve emissions by 2050 and limit warming of global temperatures to a key scientific threshold of 2 degrees Celsius.

British Prime Minister Tony Blair was optimistic in an interview with the Guardian newspaper today that the summit provided an opportunity for a breakthrough on climate change, because it brings together the G8 club of rich world states Britain, the US, Germany, France, Italy, Japan, Canada and Russia with the “plus five” emerging economic powers China, India, Brazil, Mexico and South Africa.

He said any agreement reached between the G8 and the five leading developing countries would have to be sanctioned by the entire UN.

“Failure is if there is not an agreement that leads to a global deal with substantial reduction in emissions at the heart of it,” he said.

Speaking about America’s condition of making India and China a part of the global deal, he said: “The US wants to know that China and India are in the deal.

“There are two political realities,” he said. “One is that America will not sign up to a deal unless China is in it, and the second is that China will not sign up to a deal that impedes its economic progress.

“Unless you get these key players together sitting round the table and agreed, you will float back to a Kyoto-style process.” Blair said it was important to get agreement among a “core” of states and then build on it.

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