Newsflash:
Lesli Messinger Stop Global Warming Obama Pursuing Climate Accord in Lieu of Treaty
Wednesday, 27 August 2014 13:50

Obama Pursuing Climate Accord in Lieu of Treaty

Written by  Coral Davenport | The New York Times
A coal-fired power plant in Kentucky. Coal-heavy states could be economic losers in any climate-change protocol that targets such plants, which are among the largest greenhouse gas emitters. A coal-fired power plant in Kentucky. Coal-heavy states could be economic losers in any climate-change protocol that targets such plants, which are among the largest greenhouse gas emitters. (Luke Sharrett/The New York Times)
WASHINGTON — 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.

In preparation for this agreement, to be signed at a United Nations summit meeting in 2015 in Paris, the negotiators are meeting with diplomats from other countries to broker a deal to commit some of the world’s largest economies to enact laws to reduce their carbon pollution. But under the Constitution, a president may enter into a legally binding treaty only if it is approved by a two-thirds majority of the Senate.

To sidestep that 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.

“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 works closely with the Obama White House on international climate change policy.

Lawmakers in both parties on Capitol Hill say there is no chance that the currently gridlocked Senate will ratify a climate change treaty in the near future, especially in a political environment where many Republican lawmakers remain skeptical of the established science of human-caused global warming.

“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.”

American negotiators are instead homing in on a hybrid agreement — a proposal to blend legally binding conditions from an existing 1992 treaty with new voluntary pledges. The mix would create a deal that would update the treaty, and thus, negotiators say, not require a new vote of ratification.

Countries would be legally required to enact domestic climate change policies — but would voluntarily pledge to specific levels of emissions cuts and to channel money to poor countries to help them adapt to climate change. Countries might then be legally obligated to report their progress toward meeting those pledges at meetings held to identify those nations that did not meet their cuts.

“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.

The strategy comes as scientists warn that the earth is already experiencing the first signs of human-caused global warming — more severe drought and stronger wildfires, rising sea levels and more devastating storms — and the United Nations heads toward what many say is the body’s last chance to avert more catastrophic results in the coming century.

At the United Nations General Assembly in New York next month, delegates will gather at a sideline meeting on climate change to try to make progress toward the deal next year in Paris. A December meeting is planned in Lima, Peru, to draft the agreement.

In seeking to go around Congress to push his international climate change agenda, Mr. Obama is echoing his domestic climate strategy. In June, he bypassed Congress and used his executive authority to order a far-reaching regulation forcing American coal-fired power plants to curb their carbon emissions. That regulation, which would not be final until next year, already faces legal challenges, including a lawsuit filed on behalf of a dozen states.

But unilateral action by the world’s largest economy will not be enough to curb the rise of carbon pollution across the globe. That will be possible only if the world’s largest economies, including India and China, agree to enact similar cuts.

The Obama administration’s international climate strategy is likely to infuriate Republican lawmakers who already say the president is abusing his executive authority by pushing through major policies without congressional approval.

“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, the Kentucky Republican and minority leader, said in a statement.

A deal that would not need to be ratified by the United States or any other nation is also drawing fire from the world’s poorest countries. In African and low-lying island nations — places that scientists say are the most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change — officials fear that any agreement made outside the structure of a traditional United Nations treaty will not bind rich countries to spend billions of dollars to help developing nations deal with the forces of climate change.

Poor countries look to rich countries to help build dams and levees to guard against coastal flooding from rising seas levels, or to provide food aid during pervasive droughts.

“Without an international agreement that binds us, it’s impossible for us to address the threats of climate change,” said Richard Muyungi, a climate negotiator for Tanzania. “We are not as capable as the U.S. of facing this problem, and historically we don’t have as much responsibility. What we need is just one thing: Let the U.S. ratify the agreement. If they ratify the agreement, it will trigger action across the world.”

Observers of United Nations climate negotiations, which have gone on for more than two decades without achieving a global deal to legally bind the world’s biggest polluters to carbon cuts, say that if written carefully such an agreement could be a creative and pragmatic way to at least level off the world’s rapidly rising levels of greenhouse gas emissions.

About a dozen countries are responsible for nearly 70 percent of the world’s carbon pollution, chiefly from cars and coal-fired power plants.

At a 2009 climate meeting in Copenhagen, world leaders tried but failed to forge a new legally binding treaty to supplant the 1997 Kyoto Protocol. Instead, they agreed only to a series of voluntary pledges to cut carbon emissions through 2020.

The Obama administration’s climate change negotiators are desperate to avoid repeating the failure of Kyoto, the United Nations’ first effort at a legally binding global climate change treaty. Nations around the world signed on to the deal, which would have required the world’s richest economies to cut their carbon emissions, but the Senate refused to ratify the treaty, ensuring that the world’s largest historic carbon polluter was not bound by the agreement.

Seventeen years later, the Senate obstacle remains. Even though Democrats currently control the chamber, the Senate has been unable to reach agreement to ratify relatively noncontroversial United Nations treaties. In 2012, for example, Republican senators blocked ratification of a United Nations treaty on equal rights for the disabled, even though the treaty was modeled after an American law and had been negotiated by a Republican president, George W. Bush.

This fall, Senate Republicans are poised to pick up more seats, and possibly to retake control of the chamber. Mr. McConnell, who has been one of the fiercest opponents of Mr. Obama’s climate change policy, comes from a coal-heavy state that could be an economic loser in any climate-change protocol that targets coal-fired power plants, the world’s largest source of carbon pollution.

Link to the original article from The New York Times.

Read 2492 times

Latest News from the Messinger Campaign

  • Savannah's Lesli Messinger gives Democrats best chance to beat Jack Kingston
    Savannah's Lesli Messinger gives Democrats best chance to beat Jack Kingston

    On Saturday, October 20, First Congressional District candidate Lesli Messinger visited Pin Point, Georgia and talked with locals about her candidacy and to listen to what issues those citizens believe are important.

    Messinger has traveled through her congressional district for months since her qualifying back in late May and has touted a strong progressive message and has been able to build grassroots coalitions.

    Written on Sunday, 21 October 2012 16:18 Read more...
  • Messinger Wins Race to Face Kingston
    Messinger Wins Race to Face Kingston

    Progressive Democrats say Congrats to U.S. Congressional GA District 1 Primary Winner Lesli Messinger. Lesli Messinger has claimed the Democratic nomination for Georgia’s 1st Congressional District Tuesday beating Nathan Russo in the Democratic Primary.  Unofficial results showed Messinger with 54 percent of the vote to 46 percent for Russo with 97 percent of the precincts reporting.

    Written on Wednesday, 01 August 2012 15:55 Read more...
  • Georgia’s Only Democratic Woman Candidate for Congress
    Georgia’s Only Democratic Woman Candidate for Congress

    Democrat Lesli Messinger seeks to end 20 years of Republican domination in coastal Georgia.  It’s a particularly difficult challenge to unseat an incumbent, and harder still for a Democrat in a Congressional District that’s been Republican-ruled for 20 years.

    Written on Friday, 27 July 2012 02:52 Read more...
  • Mickey Stephens backs Lesli Messinger for Congress
    Mickey Stephens backs Lesli Messinger for Congress

    State Rep. Mickey Stephens, D-Savannah, has endorsed Lesli Messinger for the Democratic nomination in the 1st Congressional District.

    Messinger, a Savannah businesswoman, is running against Nathan Russo, a retired St. Simons businessman, in Tuesday’s primary.

    The winner will face Republican incumbent Jack Kingston, who is seeking a 10th term.  Last year’s boundary changes left the district with a GOP tilt, but less pronounced than in the past.

    The endorsement apparently is intended to buttress Messinger’s claim to be a stauncher Democrat than Russo and a loyal supporter of  President Barack Obama.

    Russo has argued that, to beat Kingston in the district, a Democrat must make a strong appeal to many independents and at least some Republicans.

    Stephens prefaces his statement by saying he’s “a lifelong member of the Democratic Party for over 30 years.”  

    “Not only does Mrs. Messinger have fresh new ideas that I feel truly represent the people of our district, and the state of Georgia,” he said. “She is a proud supporter of President Obama’s policies. I know Messinger will stand with President Obama in Congress, on a true Democratic front with other members of Congress.”

    Written on Thursday, 26 July 2012 00:00
  • U.S. House District 1: Lesli Messinger says she speaks for middle class
    U.S. House District 1: Lesli Messinger says she speaks for middle class

    Lesli Messinger moved to Skidaway Island four years ago, she says, to escape the “dark and dreary” environs of New Jersey. But Messinger says she found darkness and dreariness near the tranquil community where she and her husband, Nathan, relocated. She says she met women who couldn’t afford cookies for their grandchildren and people whose jobless benefits were expiring.

    Written on Tuesday, 24 July 2012 00:00 Read more...

ERA Legislation in your State

Unratified states Gold - Ratified States Purple

Sign the ERA Petition

ERADemandButton

On Friday, September 12th more than 150 activists will go to DC and Demand that their Senators and Representatives support removing the ratification deadline from the ERA (SJ Res 15 and HJ Res 113)

Button-SignERAPetition

Sign the Petition - Sen. Sanders Run as a Democrat in 2016

Button-SandersPetition

Like Lesli Messinger

Lori Wallach on the TPP from PDA Progressive Roundtable

Progressive Roundtable with Reps. Ellison and Pocan and Lori Wallach on TPP

TPP: The Biggest Threat to the Internet You've Probably Never Heard Of