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US rejects EU target for cutting emissions

BERLIN -- The United States rejects the European Union's all-encompassing target on reduction of carbon emissions, President Bush's environmental adviser said yesterday.

James Connaughton, chairman of the White House Council on Environmental Quality, said the United States is not against setting goals but prefers to focus them on specific sectors, such as cleaner coal and reducing dependence on gasoline. "The US has different sets of targets," he said.

Germany, which holds the European Union and Group of Eight presidencies, is proposing a so-called two-degree target, whereby global temperatures would be allowed to increase no more than 2 degrees Celsius -- the equivalent of 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit -- before being brought back down. Practically, scientists have said that means a global reduction in emissions of 50 percent below 1990 levels by 2050.

Connaughton, on a one-week bipartisan trip to Europe with members of the House of Representatives, said the United States favors "setting targets in the context of national circumstances."

In Hamburg yesterday, Asian countries, including rising global powerhouses China and India, reluctantly agreed to back European calls for a new climate change treaty by 2009 to limit greenhouse gases after the Kyoto Protocol expires.

The deal was a step forward for German Chancellor Angela Merkel's push for a climate deal at next week's G-8 summit. But deep differences remained at the end of the meeting of foreign ministers from the European Union and Asia over whether developing countries would themselves agree to cut emissions.

"Developed countries have a long history of industrialization and emissions," said Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi . "We hope developed countries will make further, deeper cuts in emissions and take seriously concerns and needs of developing countries, and honor their commitments to provide financial assistance and technology transfers."

Despite the disagreements, Connaughton said the G-8 meeting, which brings together the leaders of Germany, the United States, Russia, Britain, France, Italy, Canada, and Japan, could still result in a productive conclusion.

"Let the G-8 process run its course," he said. "Give the leaders a chance."

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