The Heat Is Online

Climate Rift Threatens US-German Relations

US and Berlin clash on G8 climate text

 

Financial Times, May 25, 2007

 

Political tensions between the US and Germany over climate change have worsened sharply, with Washington threatening to no longer "tread lightly" in negotiations on global warming ahead of the Group of Eight rich nations' summit next month.

The US has sent Germany a harshly worded statement in which it accuses Berlin of ignoring of Washington's serious, fundamental concerns with Germany's draft climate change communiqué for the Baltic coast summit.

The statement, written in red ink and obtained by the Financial Times, says: "We have tried to 'tread lightly' but there is only so far we can go given our fundamental opposition to the German position."

Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, would like the summit to agree limits on carbon emissions but the US says climate change should be tackled with technology-based solutions rather than mandatory emissions targets and accuses Berlin of ignoring its stance.

Washington says the latest version of the communiqué "is called final but we never agreed to any of the climate language presented in the document".

It adds: "The majority of our comments on the previous draft have not been addressed and some new, problematic text has been added." Germany's proposed text "crosses multiple 'red lines' in terms of what we simply cannot agree to", according to the statement.

The statement and draft communiqué are dated May 14, according to a person familiar the documents.

Diplomats said the US outburst confirms that a substantial deal on climate change is no longer possible at the summit, despite the months of diplomatic pressure from Berlin.

The strains in German-US relations ahead of the June 6-8 summit, to be attended by US President George W. Bush, are also likely to make it tougher for Ms Merkel to achieve progress in other sensitive fields, such as the stalled world trade talks.

German officials involved in this week's G8 talks  held in Heiligendamm, the luxury resort that will host the summit  declined to comment. The White House also refused to comment on the "specific language" disagreements in the climate change draft negotiations with the German government and said the important thing to judge was the final communiqué at the summit next month.

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2007