19th Feb 2019

US and China quash German hopes of G8 climate deal

The US and China are rejecting a German move to set bold targets for cutting CO2 emissions, saying respectively that they are "too ambitious" and that the developed – not the developing – world should pay for the move.

German chancellor Angela Merkel, whose country holds this year's G8 presidency, is pushing for agreement at the 6 June G8 summit to limit the global temperature rise this century to 2 degrees Celsius and cut global greenhouse gas emissions to half the 1990 levels by 2050.

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  • Climate change: the G8 summit is facing tough talks on the issue (Photo: Notat)

But for Washington the proposals cross multiple "red lines" in terms of what the world biggest CO2 emitter cannot agree to, according to Danish daily Berlingske Tidende.

The US government has fundamental problems with the draft of the final G8 document it said in a statement, after Greenpeace obtained leaked papers from Washington to the same effect.

Germany's environment minister Sigmar Gabriel told the BBC time was running out on a possible agreement over measures to combat climate change.

"We know that with the Americans - and not only the Americans, but also the Chinese and some others - it will be very difficult to come to a real treaty during G8, maybe we cannot come to an agreement," he said.

"Then the public pressure on those heads of state who rejected the step forward on climate policy will be much higher than today," the minister added.

At meetings in Hamburg this week, Asian countries reluctantly agreed to a European call for a new treaty to be in place by 2009 to replace the Kyoto Protocol.

But China's foreign minister Yang Jiechi said the EU should not expect developing countries to share the same burden of cuts as richer nations.

Doing so would be unfair and harm attempts to lift millions of people out of poverty, Mr Jiechi said, according to press reports.

The EU in March legally bound itself to cut CO2 by 20 percent by 2020 in the hope the unilateral move would stimulate international partners to do the same.

Some EU officials are saying the 20 percent target may even have to be raised before 2020 as climate change visibly accelerates in Europe, with 60 percent or more cuts needed for 2050 and beyond.

But the brusque language from the US and China - among the world's biggest two emitters - does not bode well for any kind of agreement at the G8 in Heiligendamm next week.

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