Mumbai: US President George Bush has rejected the binding commitments of the Kyoto Protocol on curbing harmful greenhouse gases expiring in 2012, as he said, its impact "would have been to limit our economic growth and to shift American jobs to other countries while allowing major developing nations to increase their emissions."
Bush also rejected any international regime that exempts fast-growing economies like India and China from binding emission targets, saying he would not take unilateral action that imperils US industry and jobs.
The US supports a post-Kyoto regime that encompasses every major economy "and gives none a free ride," Bush told a meeting of ministers from 16 countries that together account for 80 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions.
Ministers from the world's major emitters are gathering in Paris for the `Major Economies Meeting,' the third in a series launched last September by Bush.
The US offer, which is so little and coming so late, has only helped to shake up climate talks in Paris among the world's biggest polluters.
"Countries like China and India are experiencing rapid economic growth and that's good for their people and it's good for the world," he said, adding, "This also means that they are emitting increasingly large quantities of greenhouse gases, which has consequences for the entire global climate."
Earlier, in his White House address on Wednesday, Bush had agreed for the first time to set a specific target date for US climate pollution reductions. He said he was ready to commit to a binding international agreement on long-term reductions as long as other polluting countries, such as China, do the same.
In Paris, South African environment minister Marthinus van Schalkwyk said Bush's speech "is a big complicating factor," throwing off the agenda for talks.
Bush also announced a new national goal to stop the growth of US greenhouse gas emissions by 2025 through voluntary action rather than mandatory cuts. ''We're willing to include this plan in a binding international agreement, so long as our fellow major economies are prepared to include their plans in such an agreement," he said.
The Bush plan not only did not detail any new legal mandates on industry to bring down emissions, but also warned Congress against passing new legislation that might "impose tremendous costs on our economy and American families".
Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic speaker of the House of Representatives, accused Bush of doing too little, too late, and said he had flunked the climate change challenge in his final year in office.
Instead, she asked Bush to back efforts in Congress to "cap and trade" greenhouse gas emissions, along with individual efforts of states like California.
Delegates from the European Commission and the EU presidency found Bush's strategy "disappointing," said the chief UN climate change official, Yvo de Boer. He noted that the Bush speech was aimed largely at a domestic audience.
Chinese participant Su Wei said it was good news that Bush was talking about emissions at all, but, he added, ''to take measures to slow down the increase in emissions is not enough."
The Paris talks were initially meant to focus on reducing trade barriers to environmentally friendly technology, and to working out sector-by-sector targets for cutting global emissions.