U.S. President George W. Bush on Friday called for a "strong and transparent" way for nations to measure progress on fighting climate change but said each country should set its own approach.

In a speech to a U.S.-sponsored conference of major emitting countries, Bush also called for the creation of a global fund to promote clean technology that would be led by U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson.

A long-term goal for reducing global warming was needed, Bush said, but added "each nation will design its own separate strategies for making progress toward achieving this."

Bush, who has been under pressure from the world's major economies to accept binding limits on emissions of greenhouse gases, continued to emphasize voluntary approaches to tackling climate change as he kicked off the closing day of the conference.

Bush called the meeting as a precursor to United Nations talks in Bali in December, which will aim to launch a successor to the Kyoto Protocol, a treaty that set limits on industrial nations' emissions.

Environmentalists said the conference had produced nothing new and was an attempt to circumvent U.N. efforts on climate change, a charge Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice denied.

German Environment Minister Sigmar Gabriel said the fact that Bush was speaking showed the White House would not return to its previous skepticism about the seriousness of the issue.

"This is a big step," he told reporters. "The more you have official discussions about climate change ... the more difficult it is to go backwards."

(Additional reporting by Caren Bohan)