"The US still has serious, fundamental concerns about this draft statement," a red-inked note reads.
"The treatment of climate change runs counter to our overall position and crosses 'multiple red lines' in terms of what we simply cannot agree to," it continues.
"We have tried to 'tread lightly' but there is only so far we can go given our fundamental opposition to the German position."
Meanwhile, Britain and other EU nations are seeking a 60% reduction in emissions by 2050, and last week Japan announced a proposal that would see a 50% reduction by the same date.
But as long as the world is hung up on US buy-in, the entire process needs a wake up call and reality check - in that order.
The US will never agree to real progress on this issue so long as the current administration is holding the presidential reins. The first step other nations need to take is to realize this and start creating solutions that have a chance of working. Step one, send the US away from the negotiating table. Step two, go directly to China and India.
China will surpass US emissions this year. Rapidly growing India is a ways behind but already clocks in at number four (Russia, China and the US are ahead of them for now). At more than a billion people each, and unprecedented annual economic growth, it is essential that these rapidly emerging superpowers are brought into international efforts immediately, regardless of US participation. If the US is throwing a wrench into those efforts, then they need to be sent home. The fallacy of the debate is buying into the notion that the US needs to be there in the first place.
The EU will continue to bring forward aggressive targets and action to curb greenhouse gas emissions. Japan will also. Add the combined clout of the Asian superpowers and formal US participation becomes a side issue. These economies can establish and drive an international carbon market. Once that emerges many US companies will inevitably opt in as a viable carbon market creates new business opportunities. Also, the massive trade deficit of the US means that they'll be purchasing most of their products from other nations with way higher efficiency standards. So the US carbon footprint stands to benefit by proxy, if not directly.
This still leaves the thorny issue of direct US emissions - namely in the form of industrial, energy, and automotive emissions. For this, the best solution is their state and municipal governments. Increasingly, US cities and individual states are forging their own global warming strategies. When the international community begins dealing directly with these institutions and stops banging their head against the Bush administration wall, they will greatly help efforts already going on in the US - and inevitably, Washington will need to follow.