Watch the pea. What does it mean to have a non-binding non-treaty, at the same time as a real “commitment”? It’s all semantics, and, as usual, word games are the weapons of big-bureaucrats. Don’t be fooled into thinking Paris was no threat to the free West.
As I keep saying, the climate conference in Paris was not trying to reduce CO2 or change the climate. The real aim is an endless free lunch for freeloaders. The Politicites didn’t get the legally binding agreement they dream of, but what they got may turn out to be almost as good. Marlo Lewis explains it may yet be politically binding on the target rich Western nations, which is all that really matters. It’s the best strategic review I’ve seen of what happened in Paris.
It was no accident that it was “non-binding”. That was part of the plan.
They were never going to get a legal treaty through the US Congress, so the aim became a deal that was “non-binding” and not a “treaty” because things that are overtly legal have to go through Congress. Instead, the bureaucrat class want to go around the voters. By simply declaring that Obama’s promises mean something, with the help of a compliant patsy media they may become effectively binding — the promises enforced with political “name and shame” punishment and pressure instead of with legislation. This would be a new means of getting around Congress.
US State Department regulations describe “eight factors for distinguishing treaties from other types of international agreements. ” Lewis describes the analysis of Heritage Foundation’s Steve Groves: they lay out eight reasons why Paris was a treaty, despite being described as not one. It has detailed requirements which affect every state of the US and would have costly implications if followed, and all similar agreements would have gone through Congress in the past. It was a “decision of the parties”, formal, and with intent and has a short timeframe to reach a conclusion. Ominously, it involves an automatic ongoing ratchet mechanism to increase the aims every five years from now to perpetuity. A wolf in sheep’s clothing.
Marlo Lewis on the implications of this deceptive grab for power:
Nor do we find “legally binding” among the State Department’s eight factors for distinguishing treaties from other agreements not subject to the Senate’s advice and consent (such as “sole executive agreements”).
More importantly, where is it written that the president gets to decide unilaterally whether or not a particular agreement is a treaty? The executive and legislative branches are co-equal, and treaty making is a shared power. If the President can by his sole voice declare a treaty not to be treaty because acknowledging it is a treaty would effectively kill it, then he can gut Article 2, neuter the Senate, and enact almost any policy he wants just by negotiating a sole executive agreement with foreign leaders.
The US may have the only political system strong enough to withstand the relentless assault from the army of selfish big-gov dependent enviro-pretenders (the “EnviroPo’s”). But it will take determination and effort. In Australia I’m not aware of any equivalent analysis like this, and given how different our political system is, we need one. Likewise, the UK, NZ, Germany and Canada. Start strategizing…
Summary: The Paris climate agreement is “non-binding, underfunded, and unenforceable,” as one conservative commentator put it. However, Paris is a “paper tiger” only on paper. The treaty’s core purpose is not to impose legal obligations but to establish the multi-decade framework for a global political pressure campaign. The pressure will be directed chiefly at those who oppose EPA’s unlawful Clean Power Plan and other elements of the President’s climate agenda. Republicans will get rolled unless GOP leaders organize a political counter-offensive centered around a Byrd-Hagel 2.0 resolution. Key message point: Contrary to President Obama, the Paris agreement is a treaty, hence it is not a policy of the United States until the Senate ratifies it.
The Paris agreement is “politically” rather than “legally” binding in two ways. First, each country’s core commitments are self-chosen (“nationally determined”) rather than specified by the agreement itself. Second, commitments are to be enforced via political pressure (“naming and shaming”) rather than through international tribunals or economic sanctions.
Obama wanted a politically-binding agreement for two reasons. First, he gets to pretend the Paris agreement is not a treaty, hence does not have to be submitted to the Senate for its advice and consent…
Second, an agreement in which each country promises to implement its own “nationally determined contribution” (NDC) to limiting global emissions allows Obama to pretend EPA’s Clean Power Plan (CPP) and other elements of his domestic climate agenda are “commitments” America has made to the world.
The solution — pass a Byrd-Hagel 2.0
….watershed event in that battle was the Senate’s passage of the Byrd-Hagel Resolution in July 1997. Byrd-Hagel preemptively nixed any climate agreement, like Kyoto, that would either exempt developing countries from emission-reduction targets and timetables or harm the U.S. economy.
GOP leaders and their allies must mount their own campaign to undercut the global political pressure regime Obama plans to construct via the Paris treaty. The most important thing they can do is pass a Byrd-Hagel 2.0, such as the concurrent resolution introduced by Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) and Rep. Mike Kelly (R-Penn.). For maximum effect, they should pass it before April 22, 2016, when the Paris treaty is officially open for “ratification, acceptance, accession, or approval.”
The resolution and accompanying outreach should resoundingly affirm the following basic points:
(1) The legislative and executive branches are co-equal and treaty making is a shared power. The President does not get to decide unilaterally what is and is not a treaty subject to Senate review.
(2) The Paris agreement, by virtue of its detail, the extent of its commitments, previous national practice, and other factors, is a treaty.
(3) The United States is not a party to a treaty until and unless the Senate ratifies it.
(4) The President cannot unilaterally adopt U.S. emission-reduction targets and timetables as part of an international climate agreement, without violating the terms on which the Senate ratified the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.
(5) Evading Senate review by falsely claiming Paris is not a treaty would make executive agencies less accountable to Congress and the American people and more beholden to foreign leaders, U.N. bureaucrats, and unaccountable NGOs.
Read the whole analysis at Cooler Heads.