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Washington Watch

Bush’s Climate Policy Selflessly Ensures that No Progress Will Be Made During His Tenure--And the G8 Buys It

Worldwide Climate Policy 1% Inspiration, 99% Aspiration?

OK, Maybe 1% Is a Little High

Think This Was a Climate Victory? Al Gore Doesn't

President George W. Bush announced a new global warming plan just one week before the G8 Summit in Germany. Incredibly enough, the G8 accepted it, for the most part.

President Bush wanted 15 major polluting countries to set a global goal for reducing greenhouse gases by the end of 2008 (any resemblance between the proposal’s timeline and that of his presidential term is purely coincidental).

"To help develop this goal, the United States would convene a series of meetings of nations that produce most greenhouse gas emissions, including nations with rapidly growing economies like India and China," he said.

Mr. Bush says countries will then set their own mid-term targets. He says each nation will come up with an individual plan of action based on its own unique mix of resources and energy needs.

Jim Connaughton, the president's adviser on the environment, followed up with reporters after the president’s announcement.

"Will the new framework consist of binding commitments or voluntary commitments?" asked CBS News's Jim Axelrod.

"In this instance, you have a long-term, aspirational goal," Connaughton answered.

"I'm confused," Axelrod said. "Does that mean there will be targets for greenhouse gas emission reductions, and that everybody will be making binding commitments?"

"The commitment at the international level will be to a long-term, aspirational goal," the Bush aide repeated.

Axelrod had his answer. "Voluntary," he concluded.

"Well," said Connaughton, "I want to be careful about the word 'voluntary'."

Great. Let’s let China, India, and the US all choose their own voluntary, non-binding “aspirational goals”. Maybe China’s goal could be to only open a new coal-burning power plant once every nine days, instead of the current once every seven. Bush’s proposal would guarantee that not only would the bar be set incredibly low, but that there would be no repercussions for not meeting goals. (In a side note, BWC staffers have asked to be evaluated the same way.)

In fact, it appears that Bush has taken his infamous personnel management style and is now applying it to other policies. Providing Medals of Honor to Paul Bremer and George Tenant could be a prelude to congratulating China and India for trying to do something about global warming, while failing miserably.

The G8 announcement was touted as a victory for the environment by many--but not former Vice President Al Gore. Gore called the deal "a disgrace disguised as an achievement". "The eight most powerful nations gathered and were unable to do anything except to say, 'We had good conversations and we agreed that we will have more conversations, and we will even have conversations about the possibility of doing something in the future on a voluntary basis perhaps'", he added.