EU and Bush in climate talks
BRUSSELS, Belgium - The European Union has told U.S. President George W. Bush to increase its ties with Europe by joining efforts against climate change.
A letter sent to the White House on Friday, addressed the 1997 United Nations deal that commits developed countries to cut their "greenhouse gas" emissions blamed for causing global warming.
The letter was signed by European Commission President Romano Prodi and Swedish Prime Minister Goran Persson, whose country currently holds the EU presidency.
The EU leaders challenged the United States to find the "political courage" to agree on the fine print of the deal struck in Kyoto, Japan, at last-ditch talks due to take place in Bonn in July.
The letter said that the EU needed to reach an agreement in Bonn over the Kyoto Protocol, leading to real reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.
The letter also said that the "global and long-term importance of climate change" and the "need for a joint effort by all industrialised countries" would make it a vital step towards relations between the EU and the U.S.
The EU leaders asked Bush for a high-level dialogue with the United States to try to make progress before Bonn.
The last round of talks to finalise the rules for implementing the Kyoto deal, which requires richer countries to reduce their emissions of six gases -- particularly carbon dioxide (CO2) -- by an average of 5.2 percent by 2010, collapsed in November largely due to differences between the two blocs.
The EU insists that countries must make the majority of the cuts at home while the United States wants maximum flexibility to buy the right to pollute from other countries and claim credit for the carbon stored in forests.
Scientists believe the gases -- mostly a result of burning fossil fuels -- trap heat into the earth's atmosphere, contributing to global warming, which could cause disastrous weather changes and floods over the next 100 years.
Concerns that Bush and Vice-President Dick Cheney, both former oilmen, will reject the Kyoto deal have grown in the last two weeks.
Bush reversed a campaign pledge to include CO2 in new rules on power station emissions controls and Cheney told a U.S. television channel on Wednesday the White House did "not support the approach of the Kyoto treaty."
Prodi and Persson told Bush they understood the challenges posed by reducing greenhouse gases, but said there would also be economic benefits in moving away from fossil fuels towards renewable sources of energy.
Reuters contributed to this report.
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