WASHINGTON — The Obama administration is working to forge a sweeping international climate change agreement to compel nations to cut their planet-warming fossil fuel emissions, but without ratification from Congress.
In preparation for this agreement, to be signed at a United Nations summit meeting in 2015 in Paris, the negotiators are meeting with diplomats from other countries to broker a deal to commit some of the world’s largest economies to enact laws to reduce their carbon pollution. But under the Constitution, a president may enter into a legally binding treaty only if it is approved by a two-thirds majority of the Senate.
To sidestep that requirement, President Obama’s climate negotiators are devising what they call a “politically binding” deal that would “name and shame” countries into cutting their emissions. The deal is likely to face strong objections from Republicans on Capitol Hill and from poor countries around the world, but negotiators say it may be the only realistic path.
“If you want a deal that includes all the major emitters, including the U.S., you cannot realistically pursue a legally binding treaty at this time,” said Paul Bledsoe, a top climate change official in the Clinton administration who works closely with the Obama White House on international climate change policy.
Lawmakers in both parties on Capitol Hill say there is no chance that the currently gridlocked Senate will ratify a climate change treaty in the near future, especially in a political environment where many Republican lawmakers remain skeptical of the established science of human-caused global warming.
Former Virgina State Climatologist and Cato Institute Director of the Center for the Study of Science Dr. Pat Michaels reacts:
When it comes to climate change, President Obama surely thinks he is king, subject to absolutely no advice and consent from our elected representatives.
The President clearly believes that a 2007 Supreme Court decision on greenhouse gases empowers him to completely bypass the Senate, including signing on to what is clearly a new United Nations treaty effectively limiting our domestic greenhouse gas emissions, without the necessary two-thirds vote required by the Constitution. And, while the nations of the world will clearly ignore such a treaty, he will impose whatever regulations he sees fit without approval of Congress. Sweeping regulation without legislative representation borders on tyranny, and it is doubtful that what he is proposing will ever stand a court challenge.