Bush calls for climate change talks, new target by 2008

U.S. President George W. Bush has called for a meeting of major greenhouse gas emitting countries by the end of the year and a global emissions target by next year.

U.S. President George W. Bush has called for a meeting of major greenhouse gas emitting countries by the end of the year and a global emissions target by next year.

In a speech delivered Thursday, Bush proposed a meeting of 15 countries identified as major emitters of greenhouse gases, including the U.S., China and India. The meeting could take place as early as this fall, said Bush.

He called on countries to hold a series of meetings, starting within months, to reach a global emissions target by 2008. Eachcountry then would have to decide on how to achieve the goal, said Bush.

"Each country would establish mid-term management targets and programs that reflect their own mix of energy sources and future energy needs," Bush said.

"In the course of the next 18 months, our nations will bring together industry leaders from different sectors of our economies, such as power generation, and alternative fuels and transportation."

G8 leaders to debate climate change

Bush outlined his proposal ahead of next week's Group of Eight Summit in Germany, where global warming is expected to be a key discussion topic among the leaders of Germany, the U.S., Russia, Britain, France, Italy, Canada and Japan.

Earlier this week, Washington rejected a German proposal for a "two-degree" target, which would allow no more than a two-degree Celsius rise in global temperatures before it had to be brought back down.

Experts say that would translate into a global emissions cut of 50 per cent below 1990 levels by 2050.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who spoke to reporters Thursday in Berlin, said Bush's comments showed the issue of climate change can't be ignored.

"What is positive is that we can see from the speech that the U.S. president made earlier today that nobody can ignore the question of climate change," said Merkel.

Daniel J. Weiss, climate strategy director for the liberal Center for American Progress, said the Bush administration has a "do-nothing" policy on global warming despite U.S. allies' best efforts to spur U.S. reductions.

The G8 talks in Heiligendamm are expected to focus on post-Kyoto Protocol targets when the climate pact expires in 2012. The accord calls for a six per cent cut in emissions from 1990 levels by 2012.

The U.S. refused to ratify the 1997 protocol because developing countries were not included. Rising economic giants China and India are also exempt.

The U.S. last year experienced a drop in emissions of carbon dioxide, the heat-trapping gas most blamed for global warming. The 1.3 per cent decline from 2005, the first drop in 11 years, was due to a mild winter followed by a cool summer.

With files from the Associated Press