Former Vice President Al Gore's assertion Thursday that the U.S. is "principally responsible" for blocking progress at the United Nations climate conference "is incorrect," White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said.
"My own country, the United States, is principally responsible for obstructing progress here in Bali," said Gore, who won this year's Nobel Peace Prize for helping alert the world to the danger of climate change.
"Obviously, those comments are not constructive to a conversation where everybody wants to get together for this meeting to talk about a framework for moving forward," Perino told reporters during her daily White House briefing.
The United States, Japan and several other governments refuse to accept language in a draft document suggesting that industrialized nations consider cutting emissions by 25 percent to 40 percent by 2020, saying specific targets would limit the scope of future talks.
The European Union and others say the figures reflect the measures scientists say are needed to rein in global warming and head off predictions of rising sea levels, worsening floods and droughts, and the extinction of plant and animal species.
"No result in Bali means no Major Economies Meeting," said Sigmar Gabriel, top EU environment official from Germany, referring to a series of separate climate talks initiated by President Bush in September. "This is the clear position of the EU. I do not know what we should talk about if there is no target."
The U.S. invited 16 other major economies, including European countries, Japan, China and India, to discuss a program of what are expected to be nationally determined, voluntary cutbacks in greenhouse gas emissions.
The Bush administration views the major economies process as the main vehicle for determining future steps by the U.S. — and it hopes by others — to slow emissions. But environmentalists accuse the U.S. of trying to undermine the U.N. process.
The talks in Bali are scheduled to wrap up Friday.