President Obama reportedly plans to do an end-run around Congress to forge an international climate change deal, effectively bypassing the Constitution’s requirement to get the Senate’s approval for a treaty.
The New York Times reported that the agreement is slated to be signed at a United Nations meeting next year in Paris. However, because the U.S. Senate is unlikely to ratify any international climate treaty, Obama’s negotiators reportedly are working toward an alternative agreement – a “politically binding” deal that would serve in lieu of a bona-fide treaty.
One expert with the Natural Resources Defense Council told the Times “there’s some legal and political magic to this.”
The developments underscore the administration’s dim chances of being able to rally the constitutionally mandated two-thirds majority in the Senate to ratify a new international treaty. But at a time when the House already is suing the president over his alleged abuse of executive power, the move to go around Congress is likely to strike a nerve with lawmakers.
The Times reported that while the agreement would not have the full force of a treaty, it would “name and shame” countries into cutting fossil fuel emissions.
The proposal was described as a hybrid – combining the legally binding conditions from an existing 1992 treaty with “new voluntary pledges.”
By doing so, negotiators reportedly claim the new agreement would not require a ratification vote.
Under the terms, co-signers would have to enact climate change policies but would be on the honor system for cutting to specific emissions levels and sending money to poor countries.