The world expects the United States to take the lead in combating climate change, a French representative said on Thursday.
The world was waiting for the United States to take the next step in curbing climate change, said Brice Lahonde, French special ambassador for climate change.
The EU, along with other developed countries, has agreed to mandatory emission reductions, and the United States should follow suit, Lahonde said at the conclusion of the Major Economies Meeting on Energy Safety and Climate Change hosted by the White House.
Organizers of the meeting invited the media to meet the delegates who had held closed-door discussions for two days to work out specific measures to address climate change.
Lahonde took the opportunity to ask the United States to move a step forward.
Lahonde said the Bush administration "was lagging behind" in terms of fighting climate change. He was referring to the U.S. withdrawal from the Kyodo Protocol.
However, the United States "is changing its position," he said. When asked to explain, he cited the U.S. engagement in climate talks and the recent steps the Bush administration has taken in tackling climate change, including setting aside more funding for clean energy and the energy efficiency bill.
He voiced hope that the United States would join other industrialized countries in imposing mandatory emission reductions.
Speaking on the same occasion, German chief representative Matthias Maching echoed Lahonde's position by calling for a binding international agreement.
Such an agreement "was the most important" because "we are running out of time," he said.
In response, James Connaughton, chairman of White House Councilon Environmental Quality, reiterated that United States would not agree to mandatory emission reductions unless major developing countries like China and India do the same.
The Bush administration has rejected the Kyoto Protocol, contending that its aim to set mandatory limits on carbon emissions from coal-fired power plants and vehicles unfairly exempts major developing economies.
The Bush administration favors what it calls "aspirational" long-term goals to be set voluntarily by countries, but U.S. officials stressed they support certain mandatory steps, such as fuel-efficiency standards and the use of alternative fuels.
Mainly because of the difference, the meeting ended without reaching any agreement. It pledged instead to move forward the Bali Action Plan on climate change.