As leaders of the Group of 8 (G8) nations meet June 6-8 in Heiligendamm, Germany, industry and environmental groups are waiting to see what they say about global warming. President Bush on May 31 proposed that major countries join to set “a long-term global goal” by the end of 2008 to trim greenhouse gas emissions. But environmental organizations criticized the announcement, contending that it was just a call for more discussions and not concrete steps to reduce global warming.

Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) on June 4 said that Bush’s announcement was “a hollow proposal.” Philip Clapp, president of the National Environmental Trust, called it “a transparent effort to divert attention from the President’s refusal to accept any emissions reductions proposals” during the G8 conference.

White House Council on Environmental Quality Chairman James Connaughton said the idea would be to bring together representatives of 10 to 15 nations that are the largest energy and greenhouse gas producers. Bush said India and China would be among those he wants to invite.

Sen. Pete Domenici of New Mexico, the senior Republican on the energy committee, said Bush’s proposal may be the sort of multilateral effort on global warming that Domenici has recommended in the past. But he said, “the devil is in the details” and noted that one of his main concerns is “exactly how each nation would go about reducing emissions and enforce the agreement.”

Asked whether any greenhouse gas commitments made by various countries would be voluntary under Bush’s proposal, Connaughton told reporters, “The commitment at the international level will be to a long-term, aspirational goal.” He then further explained, “It’s the implementing mechanisms that become binding.”

White House National Security Advisor Steven Hadley described Bush’s proposal as “an effort to try and find consensus on the way ahead.” Hadley acknowledged that “there are still some differences,” among various parties about how to address global warming. He said some believe the G8 countries should establish the plan, but noted that would exclude China and India, which are not in G8.