The man with the pen and the phone wants to carve a global climate change agreement without consulting Congress, once more sidestepping the Constitution.
The UN will eat this up. Just eat it up! Name & shame the USA in front of the UN on climate change? Say it ain’t so. http://t.co/tB3zs86K26
— Dana Perino (@DanaPerino) August 27, 2014
The president’s negotiators are trying to forge a document, partially legally binding and partially based on the honor code, to reduce carbon emissions and commit richer countries to help subsidize poorer ones, The New York Times reported Wednesday.
The agreement – not treaty – would rely on “politically binding” wording and a strategy of “naming and shaming” to cajole non-compliant countries into meeting emissions standards, something everyone knows would just scare the daylights out of Russia, China and India.
“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, who advises Obama’s team. In other words, a deal would be nice, but unenforceable.
The American Constitution requires a two-thirds approval for ratifying any treaty, and climate change legislation at this time ranks beyond impossible.
“There’s some legal and political magic to this,” said Jake Schmidt, with the Natural Resources Defense Council. “They’re trying to move this as far as possible without having to reach the 67-vote threshold in the Senate.”
However, Senate Democrats vying for election in November from coal producing and car manufacturing states such as West Virginia, Kentucky, Colorado and Michigan are aghast at having to discuss an issue which would lead to increased unemployment.
“There is an implicit understanding that this not require ratification by the Senate,” French ambassador to the United Nations for climate change Laurence Tubiana told the Times. But representatives from poorer countries disagree.
They argue that if the treaty is less than binding, then rich countries will not pay for their dams and levees to stifle rising sea levels or supply foodstuffs in times of drought.
Former Bush White House press secretary Dana Perino tweeted “The UN will eat this up. Just eat it up! Name & shame the USA in front of the UN on climate change? Say it ain’t so.”
Obama already feels the heat for overreaching his authority via the House lawsuit, and he is anxious not to repeat the failure of 2009 at Copenhagen when an update of the Kyoto Protocol could not be reached. Hence, he has kept his negotiators in the shadows.
But the man has a legacy to contemplate, and considering his track record up to now, skirting Congress to realize his ideology seems an equitable trade-off.
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