House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Monday she led a congressional delegation to Greenland, where lawmakers saw "firsthand evidence that climate change is a reality," and she hoped the Bush administration would consider a new path on the issue.
After meeting with German Environment Minister Sigmar Gabriel, Pelosi praised Berlin for its leadership on the issue.
Her trip comes ahead of next week's Group of Eight summit and a climate change meeting next month involving the leading industrialized nations and during a time of increased debate over what should succeed the Kyoto Protocol, a 1997 international treaty that caps the amount of carbon dioxide that can be emitted from power plants and factories in industrialized countries. It expires in 2012.
President Bush rejected that accord, saying it would harm the U.S. economy and unfair excludes developing countries like China and India from its obligations. Pelosi, who strongly disagrees with that decision and many other of Bush's environmental policies, said Friday she said she wants to work with the administration rather than provoke it.
Pelosi said she hoped Bush would be open to considering a "different way" in the future.
The California Democrat pointed to her delegation's weekend stop in Greenland, "where we saw firsthand evidence that climate change is a reality; there is just no denying it."
"It wasn't caused by the people of Greenland — it was caused by the behavior of the rest of the world," she said.
Scientists have noticed that Greenland's output of ice into the North Atlantic had increased dramatically, doubling over the decade that ended in 2005.
"We hope that we can all assume our responsibilities with great respect and that our administration will be open to listening to why it is important to go forward perhaps in a different way than we have proceeded in the past," she told reporters.
Gabriel and Chancellor Angela Merkel have made the fight against global warming a key point of Germany's presidencies of the G-8 and European Union. Still, Merkel has said that progress at the June 6-8 summit in Heiligendamm is not assured.
According to comments on a document released by the environmental group Greenpeace, the Bush administration is preparing to reject new targets on climate change at the summit. The White House declined to confirm the comments were from U.S. officials.
"We regret very much that we must so far have the impression that it is difficult to reach concrete results with the American administration," Gabriel said after meeting Pelosi.
Gabriel said industrial nations must take joint responsibility for the global warming that has occurred thus far.
"For the climate change of the future ... we need readiness on the part of China, India and today's other developing countries to take responsibility themselves," he added. "We can and will only achieve that if industrial nations do justice to their responsibility."
Pelosi, who is to meet with Merkel on Tuesday, said she wanted to "salute Germany's leadership on this very important issue," and said she hoped for a diplomatic debate within the United States.
Gabriel welcomed increasing interest in climate change at state and city level in the U.S. and hailed Pelosi's decision to set up a select committee on energy and global warming.
"This shows that there is a great deal of movement in the United States, too, and we naturally hope that we will achieve progress in Heiligendamm," he said.
The G-8 meeting has already drawn protests from antiglobalization activists; 21 demonstrators were arrested Monday during unrest that broke out after a march in Hamburg.