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US unveils emission cuts strategy

US President George W. Bush yesterday urged 15 major nations to agree on a global emissions goal for greenhouse gases and to reach a consensus by 2008.

With the US accused of dragging its feet on combating climate change, Bush asked for a meeting late this year of 15 countries identified as major emitters of greenhouse gases. This list would include the US, China, India and major European countries. The president outlined his proposal in a speech ahead of next week's summit in Germany of leading industrialized nations, where global warming is to be a major topic.

Bush urged other nations to eliminate tariffs on clean energy technologies. Germany, which holds the EU and Group of Eight (G8) presidencies, is proposing a so-called „two-degree” target, whereby global temperatures would be allowed to increase no more than 2 C before being brought back down. Practically, experts have said that means a global reduction in emissions of 50% below 1990 levels by 2050. The US has rejected that approach. Instead, Bush said he wants nations to hold a series of meetings, beginning this fall, to set a global emission goal.

Each nation then would have to decide how to achieve the goal, White House officials said. Bush's critics were quick to respond, even before the president ended his speech. 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 US allies' best efforts to spur US reductions. „Our allies' pleas for action add to the voices of many big corporations such as Dow, Shell, General Electric, and General Motors,” Weiss said.

„These and other Fortune 500 companies endorsed a 60% to 80% reduction in global warming pollution by 2050, the level scientists indicate that we must reach to stave off the worst impacts. Unfortunately, these appeals from his foreign and corporate allies continue to fall on President Bush's deaf ears.” While Bush announced his new proposal, the administration registered its opposition to a number of approaches to combat global warming.

Specifically, the White House said it does not support a global carbon-trading program that would allow countries to buy and sell carbon credits to meet limits on carbon dioxide levels. The White House also expressed opposition to energy efficiency targets advocated by the EU, arguing that a standard applicable in one country does not fit another. (