Get ready America: Obama set to bypass Senate on international treaty
By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
8/27/2014 (2 years ago)
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)
President Barack Obama is working to create a sweeping international climate change agreement to compel nations to cut fossil fuel emissions; however, he is seeking to do this without ratification from Congress.
President Obama and his administration are getting ready to present a climate change treaty to the U.N. and are willing to ignore a Constitutionally required Senate approval to do so.
LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - This agreement is to be signed at a United Nations summit meeting in Paris in 2015, and negotiators and diplomats from numerous countries are trying to broker a deal to commit some of the world's largest economies to enact laws to reduce fossil fuel emissions. But par the Constitution, a U.S. president may only enter into a legally binding treaty if it is approved by a two-thirds majority of the Senate.
The Obama administration may have been spurred on to create this treaty due to recent events which have highlighted the effects of climate change. For instance, the Sermeq Avangnardleq glacier in Greenland and vast expanses of the Arctic Ocean are now clear of ice, a U.N. Draft Report reported.
To sidestep the two-thirds requirement, Obama's climate negotiators are devising a "politically binding" deal that would "name and shame" countries into cutting emissions. This is likely to face strong opposition from Republicans and some Democrats, as wells as from poorer countries around the world.
"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 has worked closely with the Obama White House on international climate change policy.
Both parties say there is no chance that the gridlocked Senate will ratify a climate change treaty in the near future, something negotiators outside the U.S. worry about.
"There's a strong understanding of the difficulties of the U.S. situation, and a willingness to work with the U.S. to get out of this impasse," said Laurence Tubiana, the French ambassador for climate change to the United Nations. "There is an implicit understanding that this not require ratification by the Senate."
To overstep the Senate, American negotiators are trying for a hybrid agreement that piggybacks off an existing 1992 treaty, adding in voluntary pledges from major nations. Countries would be required to enact domestic climate change policies, but could voluntarily pledge to curb a specific amount of emissions or send money to aid poorer countries conform to these reforms.
"There's some legal and political magic to this," said Jake Schmidt, an expert in global climate negotiations with the Natural Resources Defense Council, an advocacy group. "They're trying to move this as far as possible without having to reach the 67-vote threshold" in the Senate.
"Unfortunately, this would be just another of many examples of the Obama administration's tendency to abide by laws that it likes and to disregard laws it doesn't like - and to ignore the elected representatives of the people when they don't agree," Senator Mitch McConnell, (R. KY) and minority leader, said in a statement.
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