Seriously. No, Seriously!
Ms. Stolberg's piece carries the headline, "At Group of 8 Meeting, Bush Rebuffs Germany on Cutting Emissions." Straightforward enough. Germany's Chancellor Merkel was pushing for 50 percent emissions cuts from 1990 levels by 2050. Bush reiterated his rejection of any binding targets on emissions, and instead spoke, in the lead-up to the G-8, of convening the top 15 greenhouse gas polluters to set what he called "aspirational goals." Wait, aren't all goals, by their very nature, aspirational? ... Again, I digress. Sorry.
These "aspirational goals" would be set by the individual countries, who would also devise their own strategies for meeting them. They would also be voluntary and non-binding. Sort of like New Year's resolutions, in other words -- promises you make to yourself, then forget about.
If you're determined to do nothing about global warming, this is a brilliant strategy. If, on the other hand, you are determined to stave off catastrophe, it's utterly unacceptable. So, then, how is it that Merkel, Blair and others at the G-8 came to declare this meeting a victory? Well, it seems that Bush relented in the end. That's right. After considerable diplomatic pressure had been brought to bear, he agreed to -- get this -- "seriously consider" the cuts that Merkel proposed and to participate in negotiations going forward. Stunning, isn't it?
Chancellor Merkel characterized the outcome as "very great progress and an excellent result," and Tony Blair seconded her enthusiastic appraisal. While admitting that no real agreement whatsoever had been achieved, he stressed that "there is now a process to lead to that agreement." And that, he said, is "a major, major step forward."