Europe Squares Up to Clinton

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BONN: The battle over global warming is joined. President Clinton Wednesday announced greenhouse gas proposals that substantially exceed the wishes of U.S. heavy industry, but Europe remains unimpressed. Clinton proposed that emissions be stabilized at 1990 levels by the year 2012, while Europe hopes for a 15 percent reduction from 1990 levels two years earlier.

Reaction from delegates in Bonn hammering out a global warming agreement ahead of December’s Kyoto talks “ranged from approval to resignation to despair,” says TIME correspondent Ursula Sautter. While developing countries expressed outrage and smaller industrialized countries welcomed the proposals, Europe’s G7 governments welcomed the President’s commitment to firm timetables, but squared up for a fight over the numbers. “They said it’s good that he’s put a position on the table, even if that position is unacceptable.” Sautter anticipates some hard bargaining ahead, with indications that Europe — confident in the backing of most of the international community — is prepared to play hardball with Washington over this one. “The Bonn talks will likely agree on a draft document for Kyoto, but they will leave many blanks to be filled in.”

Back at home, President Clinton faces an equally bitter battle over any global warming treaty, as heavy industry in the U.S. launches a vigorous campaign against any binding targets.