“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,” [Bush environmental advisor Jim] Connaughton answered.
Aspirational goal? Like having the body you want without diet or exercise? Or getting rich without working?
“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.'”
Connaughton may want to be careful, but the plan the White House outlined yesterday listed no concrete targets or dates, no enforcement mechanism and no penalties for noncompliance. It also wouldn’t take effect until four years after Bush leaves office. It was, rather, a call to spend the final 18 months of the Bush presidency forming an aspirational goal.