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The Bush administration is working in advance of next month's summit of industrial nation leaders to resist naming global warming as an urgent problem that requires aggressive action.
Drafts of a statement on climate and energy that negotiators are preparing for next month's G8 summit in Scotland offer glimpses of the competing views held by the United States and the other seven countries that make up the group: Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and Russia.
All but the U.S. signed on to the Kyoto treaty on global warming negotiated in 1997 but rejected by President Bush shortly after he took office in 2001. The summit's chairman, British Prime Minister Tony Blair, was unable in a meeting here June 7 to convince Bush that climate change should be dealt with more aggressively.
A June 14th draft of the proposed G8 statement provided to The Associated Press has brackets around disputed language, including assertions that the impact of global warming already is being felt in Africa, small islands, the Arctic and other regions.
Bracketed portions include statements that the world is warming, human activity is mostly to blame and developed economies must lead the fight against the problem.
"While there will always be some uncertainty, inertia in the climate system means we cannot afford to postpone action if we are to manage the risk of irreversible change," reads one sentence in contention.
The political pressure to delete that language comes directly from Bush administration officials, say environmental advocates who have talked with G8 leaders' negotiators.
"All of the changes in the June 14 draft are the result of the White House refusing to be part of any statement that says that action on climate change is urgent, that impacts are already being felt, and that the science is strong," said Philip Clapp, president of National Environmental Trust.
"The president refuses still to acknowledge that reducing global warming pollution is urgent, and that the developed nations have a responsibility to take the lead in reducing it," he said Friday.
White House spokesman Scott McClellan said Friday that U.S. negotiators "want to make sure there is a consensus to move forward in a practical way to address the long-term challenges."
In an interview, James Connaughton, chairman of the White House Council on Environmental Quality, declined to specify which portions of the document the U.S. opposes or supports.
"There is a remarkable level of consensus around the importance of the challenge before us and about the need for action," he said.