German Chancellor Angela Merkel, holding the rotating presidency of both the G-8 bloc of industrialized nations and the European Union, wants the June meeting to agree on targets for cuts in greenhouse gas output and a timetable for a major agreement on emissions reduction to succeed the Kyoto Protocol.
But unattributed comments written on a draft summit communique, which Greenpeace said were written by U.S. officials and handed to the group by an undisclosed third party, suggest the White House has major reservations.
"The U.S. still has serious, fundamental concerns about this draft statement," the notes on the document read. "The treatment of climate change runs counter to our overall position and crosses multiple 'red lines' in terms of what we simply cannot agree to."
The 27 EU members have agreed to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 20 percent by 2020 — building on Kyoto, which runs through 2012 — and by 30 percent if a broader international agreement can be reached.
Though Merkel and outgoing British leader Tony Blair — who made climate change a key priority for his final weeks in office — have pressed President Bush to back a new agreement, the document claimed the White House is "fundamentally opposed" to many of the European objectives.
The U.S., the world's biggest polluter, did not ratify the Kyoto agreement through which developed countries agreed to cut emissions by 5 percent below their 1990 level by 2012.
Merkel is seeking to win agreements for a global reduction in emissions of 50 percent below 1990 levels by 2050 and bold commitments to energy efficiency strategies at the summit in Heiligendamm, on Germany's Baltic Sea coast, June 6-8.
The draft communique also included a commitment to curb the rise in average temperatures this century to 3.6 degrees, said the environmental group Greenpeace — which has published two leaked versions of the document. Without significant efforts, the rise is estimated to rise as much as 11 degrees, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
Following talks in Washington with Bush on May 17, Blair said he believed "it is possible that we will see action — and at least the beginnings of that action at the G-8."
James Turner, a Greenpeace spokesman, said the group was confident the leaked comments were made by a U.S. official. "The document is from a stable and trusted source," he said.
Merkel on Thursday acknowledged negotiations could be problematic. "On the international level, the array of interests is more contradictory," she said. "I don't yet know, if there will be a success in Heiligendamm," where the G-8 summit is being held.
Comments Greenpeace attributed to U.S. officials said the White House had "never agreed to any of the climate language present" in the draft communique.
"We have tried to 'tread lightly' but there is only so far we can go given our fundamental opposition to the German position," read the comments.
Germany's minister for the environment, Sigmar Gabriel, warned in remarks released Saturday that the U.S. stance could create problems for successful talks at the upcoming G-8 summit.
"Discussions will be more than difficult," Gabriel told the Frankfurter Allgemeine's Sunday edition. "Although many in the USA would like to see a different policy toward global warming, the administration in Washington has not embraced this movement. For that reason, success in Heiligendamm will be very difficult."