European Commissioner Jose Manuel Barroso yesterday insisted he was confident that attitudes towards global warming in the US government were changing and that progress was being made in developing a joint EU-US strategy for tackling the problem, despite reports that negotiations ahead of a showpiece summit on the topic next week are close to deadlock.
Diplomats from the EU and US are currently working on a joint declaration on energy security ahead of next Monday's summit meeting between Barroso, President George Bush and German Chancellor Angela Merkel. But according to reports in the Financial Times yesterday only 50 percent of the declaration has been agreed with the US continuing to resist European calls for caps on carbon emissions and a formal connection between climate change and energy policy.
However, responding to questions from Institute of Directors' (IoD) director general Miles Templeman following his keynote address at the business gorup's annual conference, Barroso insisted that while there is not yet a consensus between the US and Europe on how best to tackle climate change the issue is now "very high on the agenda" and progress is being made towards an agreement.
He added that while the US has "not yet accepted the European position on having [carbon emission cutting] targets" there was a new urgency to negotiations.
Barroso insisted that the widely held perception in Europe that the US was dragging its heels in developing a climate change policy was misguided, noting that the US had invested heavily in developing green technologies.
He also claimed that the US government's traditional scepticism about climate change legislation was changing. "Public opinion has changed, Congress has changed," he said. "I believe we have a better opportunity than ever to work together."
However, Barroso insisted that an US-EU agreement on climate change policy was essential if India and China are to be encouraged to sign up to a global emissions reduction agreement.
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