On Thursday's The Situation Room, CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer seemed to worry that the recently announced G-8 plan for cutting greenhouse gas emissions was "full of hot air" because it is not strict enough in requiring cuts. Blitzer introduced a story filed by correspondent Brian Todd: "President Bush joined other G-8 leaders today and forged an agreement to try to fight global warming, but is that agreement full of hot air?"
The CNN anchor then set up Todd's story: "Is there less to this deal, Brian, than meets the eye?" Todd thought there was some "substance" to the plan, but cited "experts" who accused G-8 leaders of "over the top rhetoric." After a clip of British Prime Minister Tony Blair contending that it was "a huge thing" that they were "considering" cutting emissions in half by 2050, Todd made his own clarification: "'Considering' cutting emissions in half by 2050, not actually agreeing to that hard target for cutting them, as the German chancellor and other European leaders had hoped." (Transcript follows)
After relaying criticism from Greenpeace that the plan is "clearly not enough to prevent dangerous climate change," the CNN correspondent explored whether the Europeans were "caving" in to President Bush. But Todd then pointed out another contention by "experts" that Bush had also compromised, and that China and India would soon surpass the United States in producing greenhouse gases.
Below is a complete transcript of the story, which ran at about 5:15 p.m. on the Thursday June 7 The Situation Room on CNN:
WOLF BLITZER: More now on our top story. President Bush joined other G-8 leaders today and forged an agreement to try to fight global warming, but is that agreement full of hot air? Let's go back to CNN's Brian Todd? He's standing by. Is there less to this deal, Brian, than meets the eye?
BRIAN TODD: Well, Wolf, experts say there's actually some substance here, and it does put us on the road to getting something done on climate change, but some of the rhetoric from the G-8 leaders, they say, is a bit over the top. The leaders call it a huge step forward in the battle against climate change, their deal at the G-8 summit for industrialized nations to cut greenhouse gases that cause global warming. But listen to how they qualify it.
TONY BLAIR: We are going to be, from a starting position of considering the halving of emissions by 2050, which is a huge thing.
TODD: "Considering" cutting emissions in half by 2050, not actually agreeing to that hard target for cutting them, as the German chancellor and other European leaders had hoped. Environmentalists furious that no deal was reached for emissions to be cut to certain levels by a date certain. A top Greenpeace official says the agreement in Germany is "clearly not enough to prevent dangerous climate change." President Bush had always refused to sign up for those hard targets to cut emissions. Are the Europeans caving?
REGINALD DALE, Center for Strategic and International Studies: They have agreed to what the United States was proposing, which was basically that in future, there will be a global framework for the plan to reduce global warming, but that each country will be able to do it in its own way.
TODD: Experts say Bush has also compromised.
ANDREW REVKIN, Author of The North Pole Was Here: To actual dates for agreeing on something to come after the Kyoto protocol, which is this existing treaty that the United States has rejected, that doesn't involve big developing countries like China.
TODD: That deal also set hard targets and dates for greenhouse gas cuts, an idea the major powers now seem to concede won't lead to any major deal on global warming. What the major powers are moving toward now starting with this deal of the G-8, negotiations on how each country can cut their own emissions. And China and India are crucial. Experts say they ultimately will replace the United States as the world's biggest sources of greenhouse gases, Wolf.
BLITZER: Do these experts actually believe China and India are going to get on board and cooperate?
TODD: Well, the consensus is they will if again no hard targets for emissions cuts, no hard dates are set. That was the nonstarter that the Bush team had always rejected, as well.