“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,” Coral Davenport reports in the New York Times.
Were you surprised? In domestic climate policy, Team Obama routinely flouts the separation of powers. Their M.O. from day one has been to ‘enact’ regulatory requirements that, if proposed in legislation, would be dead on arrival.
During this year and next, climate negotiators are again trying to work out a successor treaty to the Kyoto Protocol, which expired at the end of 2012. Under the U.S. Constitution, a treaty enters into force only if ratified, and ratification requires the approval of “two-thirds of Senators present.”
Although Democrats control the Senate, a ratification vote on Kyoto II would fail if held today. With Republicans expected to pick up Senate seats in November, the constitutional path to a new climate treaty seems hopelessly blocked.
So, according to Davenport, the Obama administration plans to negotiate an agreement that is not a treaty yet binding in effect:
To sidestep that [two-thirds] 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.
The agreement Obama seeks is no mere ‘coalition of the willing.’ Even though not ratified by the Senate, elements of agreement would still be enforceable as a matter of international law. From the NYT article: [click to continue…]