In a move of interest and significance to India, Jacques Chirac, the French President, and Gerhard Schröder, the German Chancellor, have joined forces to press Tony Blair to isolate the Americans over climate change at next week's G8 summit. They would prefer a 7-1 split to the final communiqué on the issue, which is being negotiated this weekend by officials in London, rather than bow to pressure by the US for it to be watered down.
The stand of developing countries is that the developed countries like the US must cut down on emissions to help environment rather than pressurise countries like India, which are still developing.
French negotiators are demanding the inclusion in the communiqué of an explicit reference to the Kyoto agreement, which the US has refused to sign. "We would like to see clear references to the Kyoto protocol in the communiqué. The EU has taken a very united stance on Kyoto. It was very influential in getting Russia to sign up," said a French diplomat. But, that could leave the US isolated.
Blair has hinted that he would try to sidestep the issue by seeking agreement with the US on future action. He said in a webchat on the G8: "We have had a disagreement with America over Kyoto.
" The question is, in 2012 can we put in place a new process that informs America and establishes a consensus for action involving both the developed world and the emerging economies like India and China? I hope the G8 can make progress here."
A leaked draft of the communiqué showed that the Americans were still resisting a tough wording on the scientific evidence that human activity is causing climate change. British negotiators are seeking a compromise to keep the US on board, but France and Germany are insisting on an explicit reference to the scientific evidence, with wording on the urgency of the threat from global warming, according to a report in the Independent.
The US is seeking to remove a paragraph stating, "Climate change is a serious and long-term challenge that has the potential to affect every part of the globe". A reference in an earlier draft to a joint declaration in early June by top scientists from all G8 nations that human activities were a significant contributor to global warming has already been removed.
Another paragraph refers to a predicted 60 per cent growth in global energy demands over the next 25 years, but a section stating "we know that we need to slow, stop and then reverse the growth in greenhouse gases" is also under question. "If anything, this draft is weaker than the one that was on the table before," Jennifer Morgan, climate change expert at the World-Wildlife Fund was quoted saying.
Downing Street signalled last night that Britain would resist being forced to join France and Germany in a 7-1 standoff against Bush at the summit. The Prime Minister's official spokesman said: "We are approaching this as the president of the G8. Serious negotiations are going on."
But reports said President Chirac is determined to hold Blair to the principles for climate change that the UK has set out in the past. "We are very supportive of the UK on the G8," said the French source. "We share the view with Blair that the two main topics of development aid and climate change are equally important and are linked."