U.S. stand on climate concessions still negative

Expectations from this week’s Group of Eight summit in Scotland has become great in the UK, but the United States seems not to share the optimism and prefer to play them down.

Officials from all eight G8 countries met over the weekend in London in an effort to hammer out agreements for their leaders. The discussions "were pretty intense" on the complex issues of climate change and the effect farm subsidies have on global trade, especially in Africa, said Sir Michael Jay, Prime Minister Tony Blair's representative, reports the AP.

According to the Guardian, US President George Bush is now ready to concede that climate change has scientific basis, and that collective action is required over global warming. Until now, Mr Bush has adopted an intransigent position, insisting there is no scientific basis to conclude that there is such a phenomenon as global warming, notes the newspaper.

But as Reuters reports, President George W. Bush has told Prime Minister Tony Blair to expect no favors at this week's Group of Eight summit in return for backing war in Iraq as a deal on climate change looked set to offer little concrete action.

As Blair has made tackling global warming and relieving African poverty the twin goals of his year-long presidency of the G8, Bush brings the U.S. national interests to the forefront. "I really don't view our relationship as one of quid pro quo," Bush told ITV1 television in an interview. "Tony Blair made decisions on what he thought was best for keeping the peace and winning the war on terror, as I did.”

"So I go to the G8 not really trying to make him look bad or good, but ... with an agenda that I think is best for our country." Bush also said the debate on global warming should shift from limits on greenhouse gas emissions to new technology that would reduce environmental harm without restricting energy use. Bush said he remains opposed to any international targets for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, such as those in the Kyoto Accord.

In reaction to President Bush’s words Downing Street stressed that Mr Blair had never seen his relationship with the US president in terms of a "quid pro quo." "G8 is not about drawing the US into Kyoto or setting new standards," a spokeswoman was quoted as saying by The Guardian. "Because they take a different view doesn't mean that the US cannot work with Europe and others to take forward measures to tackle climate change." While Blair has made headway on Africa, he has been stymied on climate change by the United States, the world's biggest polluter, which has been grudging in even accepting the world is warming and has not signed up to the Kyoto Protocol, notices Reuters.

All the other G8 members - Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and Russia - have signed up to the protocol to cut emissions of carbon dioxide, which came into force in February.

In such a situation Tony Blair finds himself in a very uncomfortable position because of the USA's unwillingness to welcome London's suggestions. Bush's reaction to Blair's plan will undoubtedly become a political blow on the US strategic ally.

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