John Gummer, the Secretary of State for the Environment, shocked UN delegates by visibly fulminating at the close of a speech delivered on behalf of the US government by America's ambassador to the UN, Bill Richardson.
Mr Richardson later told British officials he had been "yelled at" by Mr Gummer, who was seated next to him.
In his own speech Mr Gummer said: "The US has the capability to deal with the serious disruptions that climate change will bring, but the rest of the world does not.
"In 25 years' time, when countries are facing starvation or inundation, who is going to pick up the tab? ... The sadness in America is that politicians have not been willing to communicate to their public what is at stake here."Reuse content