President Bush next week will outline U.S. aims for a forthcoming Earth Summit but is not expected to commit to any international proposals to cap carbon dioxide emissions, White House officials said.
At the United Nations, negotiators from 148 countries have been drafting a global warming treaty, embracing limits on the carbon dioxide emissions which contribute to dangerous climatic change, and statements on the talks from the Bush administration have been marked by their rarity.World leaders are due to sign the pact at the Earth Summit, a U.N. Conference on Environmental Development in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in June."
Looking ahead to the summit, Brazilian President Fernando Collor de Mello Saturday fired his controversial Environment Secretary Jose Lutzenberger.
A communique from the presidential palace said Lutzenberger, a temperamental 65-year-old of German extraction, would be replaced on a caretaker basis by Education Secretary Jose Goldemberg, a trusted Collor ally.
"The substitution is intended to guarantee that there is only one line of thought and action in the area of environmental protection," the presidential statement said.
Among summit negotiators there has been pressure on the United States as the world's largest single producer of carbon dioxide gas to support a European Community proposal to cap emissions at 1990 levels.
Washington fears timetables and limits might restrain economic growth, fragile at best worldwide right now.
Bush's outline will be cast in an introductory message to the annual White House report on environmental quality in the United States to be released Tuesday.
Bush is expected to reiterate the U.S. position that countries should develop specific methods for reducing all greenhouse gas emissions rather than set CO2 targets.
The report will list six objectives the United States hopes to achieve at the Earth Summit.
These will cover climate change, forests, biodiversity, oceans, technological cooperation and financing, and outline actions the administration and Congress can take.
White House officials said the tone of Bush's message will be "rather striking".
This first presidential statement on the Earth Summit in almost a year will underline "serious results" the United States will be looking for in Rio, they said.
"The president is not changing the U.S. position on targets and timetables. (His message) does, we hope, state in a clearer and more forceful way the reasons why we think there are more appropriate steps to take," added one official.
"The EC clearly tried to count on a belief that all they had to do was to apply enough fire to the U.S. trousers and it would roll over and play dead," the official said.
"That is not going to happen."
Another White House official who suggested each nation develop national climate action plans to spell out how they will address all greenhouse gases, not just carbon dioxide, said "we want to see a climate change convention in Rio."
Such an approach would be environmentally and economically preferable to a carbon dioxide-approach, and several nations are quietly saying they favor the U.S. method to limiting greenhouse gases, the official added.
Conference secretary-general Maurice Strong was in Washington last Thursday to discuss the Earth Summit with Chief of Staff Samuel Skinner, administration officials said.
Environmental groups say the administration may be forced into some compromise because pressure is mounting within Congress to lower carbon dioxide emissions.