George W. Bush put forward the proposal at a speech in the lead-up to next week's summit of the Group of Eight leading industrialized nations in Germany. Climate change will also be on the agenda of Russian President Vladimir Putin's visit to the U.S. on July 1-2.
Bush said: "My proposal is this: By the end of next year, America and other nations will set a long-term global goal for reducing greenhouse gases. To develop this goal, the United States will convene a series of meetings of nations that produce the most greenhouse gases, including nations with rapidly growing economies like India and China."
Bush's comments were an apparent response to widespread criticism of his country's inaction on the climate change issue, and its reluctance to curb emissions.
The president said the U.S. will work with other nations to establish a new framework for greenhouse gas emissions for when the Kyoto Protocol expires in 2012.
The 1998 Kyoto Protocol to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, which sets greenhouse gas emission targets for the period up to 2012, came into force two years ago, following ratification by 141 countries, which together account for over 55% of global emissions. The United States, the world's largest emitter of greenhouse gases, refused to ratify the protocol, rendering it ineffective.
The U.S. president said that under a new arrangement: "Each country would establish midterm management targets and programs that reflect their own mix of energy sources and future energy needs," he said.
He said in the course of the next 18 months, "our nations will bring together industry leaders from different sectors of our economies, such as power generation, and alternative fuels and transportation."