UNITED NATIONS -- European nations said yesterday that they were prepared to offer more money to help developing countries comply with proposed new treaties on the environment, and they urged the United States to do the same.
The Europeans called attention to another major difference between the United States and others in the industrial world by reaffirming their commitment to hold emissions of gases that warm the atmosphere in the year 2000, to 1990 levels -- a pledge that the Bush administration has so far refused to make.
The Europeans' positions were outlined on the opening day of a five-week conference here to prepare for a world environmental summit meeting in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in June. The purpose of the June meeting is to forge a consensus on making world economic growth ecologically safe and sustainable.
Such an agreement would be codified in the form of conventions curbing greenhouse gas emissions and protecting plants and animals. At the June meeting, participants also hope to agree on a general statement of environmental principles, to be called the Earth Charter, and a detailed plan of action for the 21st century.
The extraordinarily high cost of meeting such goals was re-emphasized yesterday by Maurice F. Strong, a Canadian who has beennamed secretary general of the Rio meeting. At a news conference, he said that the total bill could be as high as $600 billion a year, with developing countries requiring $70 billion more a year in aid.
Mr. Strong said that for natural resources to have the chance to be protected, poverty would have to be alleviated. World population also would have to be stabilized, easing stress on the environment, he said.
As European countries pressed the United States to change its positions for the Rio meeting, Third World countries made their case to the relatively well-off nations of the Northern Hemisphere. These poorer countries are seeking a global compact under which rich nations would provide them with money and technology to protect resources and develop their economies in environmentally sustainable ways.