The United States and the European Union agree that the next 15 years will be decisive in averting a global warming disaster but disagree on a strategy, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said on Sunday.
"I do not think that we are so far apart in our underlying analysis of the situation," Steinmeier told Deutschlandfunk radio.
He said Washington and Europe concurred that "politicians have at most another 15 years to take steps to ensure that climate change does not become a catastrophe".
But Steinmeier said while the US administration thinks climate change could be addressed by switching to cleaner energy sources, Europe insists that scientific advances must be accompanied by a new set of binding targets on reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
"We are not really arguing about the restrictions in themselves, but about which philosophy to adopt," he said.
"The United States believes we can manage climate change by rapidly developing new technologies. Well, yes, we need new technology and we must put as much money and creativity into developing it. But this alone will not be enough over the next 15 years. We need to accompany this with binding targets."
Steinmeier said he had based his impressions of the US position on talks with US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and other officials in the run-up to the G8 summit which kicks off in Germany on Wednesday.
The 6-8 June summit is expected to be dominated by the thorny debate of how best to tackle climate change.
A heated row erupted between the host nation and the United States in recent weeks as Chancellor Angela Merkel sought to win US support for a bold G8 declaration on slashing greenhouse gas emissions.
But the United States rejected large parts of the draft declaration.
The country is the world’s biggest producer of greenhouse gas emissions but refused to ratify the Kyoto Protocol which imposes limits on developed nations’ output of the harmful gases.
US President George W. Bush last week unveiled a plan for a "new framework" to fight global warming with the help of other leading polluters, including rapidly industrialising India and China.
But experts have slammed the absence of enforceable measures in the Bush proposal.