By JONATHAN WEISMAN in Pittsburgh and STEPHEN POWER in Washington
Prospects for securing a global agreement this year to attack climate change dimmed Friday, as the Group of 20 largest economies asked their finance ministers for a "range of possible options" to finance deployment of technology to curb greenhouse gases, but dropped demands that a final proposal be drafted before the world climate summit in Copenhagen in December.
At the Clinton Global Initiative, Australian prime minister Kevin Rudd says that it makes no sense to have an institution of global economic governance that excludes China, Mexico and Brazil.
G-20 heads of government also dropped efforts to set a date for countries to eliminate fossil-fuel subsidies, despite a push for action on the issue by President Barack Obama.
The G-20's resolutions on climate issues have been vague and lacking in hard deadlines, illustrating the reluctance of leaders to take tough action to curb the long-term threat of global warming at a time when their economies are struggling to recover from the more immediate effects of the financial crisis.
"The G-20 has not fundamentally transformed the deadlock in the Copenhagen negotiations," said Michael Levi, a senior fellow on energy and environmental issues at the Council on Foreign Relations. "Until we resolve what Copenhagen is supposed to accomplish, we're going to have trouble accomplishing anything."
Leaders in Pittsburgh put off timetables and avoided detailed explanations. They didn't produce a target figure for financing climate-change mitigation and control in poor countries. They agreed to phase out government subsidies for the production and consumption of fossil fuels but didn't include a deadline.
Michael Casey of Dow Jones Newswires wraps up an eventful Group of 20 meeting in Pittsburgh, including an unprecedented shift of priorities and power to developing countries.
In the face of opposition by the largest subsidizers, such as Russia, the summit's communiqué says such government supports should disappear "over the medium term." In climate-change parlance, that can mean 2020, White House officials said.
Obama administration officials defended the results. "The fact that we brought together these 20 countries, about half of them being big subsidizers, and got them to say we going to work to reduce subsidies we think is a big step forward," a U.S. official said. "If someone says 'medium term' means 2030, 2040 we're going to push back hard."
Mr. Obama is finding it difficult to persuade some lawmakers to go along with his push to scale back billions of dollars in tax credits for oil and natural-gas production that his aides say have led to "overinvestment" of the nation's resources in oil and natural gas.
Oil and natural-gas companies say the president's tax proposals will discourage domestic production of oil and natural gas.
It is also uncertain when the Senate will vote on legislation to curb U.S. greenhouse-gas emissions. The chairwoman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, Barbara Boxer (D., Calif.), is expected to unveil her proposal to curb emissions next week.—Siobhan Hughes and Min Zeng contributed to this article.
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