Obama will bypass Senate, ratify Paris climate accord himself during trip to China: report
President Obama is prepared to enter into the Paris climate accord as early as this week even though Republicans have insisted that the pact must be ratified by the Senate, according to a report out of China.
The South China Morning Post reported that Mr. Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping are “set to jointly announce their ratification” of the ambitious international climate-change pact on Friday, two days before the start of the 11th G-20 Summit in Hangzhou, Zhejiang.
“There are still some uncertainties from the U.S. side due to the complicated U.S. system in ratifying such a treaty, but the announcement is still quite likely to be ready by Sept. 2,” an unnamed source told the English-language newspaper.
In addition, “[s]enior climate officials from both countries worked late into the night in Beijing on Tuesday to finalise [sic] details,” said the article, citing “sources familiar with the issue.”
The Thursday report touched off alarm among foes of the Paris Agreement, which calls for nations to reduce their greenhouse-gas emissions with the aim of holding global temperatures to an increase of “well below” 2 degrees Celsius from pre-industrial levels.
Myron Ebell, director of the free-market Competitive Enterprise Institute’s Center for Energy and Environment, described the report as “curious because ratifying treaties in the United States requires a two-thirds vote of the Senate.”
“In China’s Communist Party dictatorship, ratification merely requires their Maximum Leader to say, ‘So be it,’ ” said Mr. Ebell, who flagged the article, adding, “Lo and behold, the president of the United States can ratify a treaty in the same way as China’s Maximum Leader. He merely has to say the magic words, ‘So be it.’ “
Sen. James Inhofe, chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, has warned other nations that without Senate approval, the agreement will “soon become another stack of empty promises on global warming.”
“I want to make sure international participants are warned now that the president’s commitment lacks the support of his own government and will fail,” Mr. Inhofe said in an April 12 statement.
He delivered his broadside shortly before Secretary of State John Kerry participated in a United Nations ceremony on Earth Day to sign what he described as the “historic” Paris agreement. Participating nations are required to sign and ratify the agreement.
U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon called last month on international leaders to “accelerate” the ratification process after countries were slow to jump aboard.
The accord takes effect after ratification by 55 nations responsible for at least 55 percent of global emissions, but so far only 23 nations covering 1.1 percent of emissions have signed and ratified the pact, according to the “ratification tracker” maintained by Climate Analytics.
The group’s analysts expressed concern last month that the “window of opportunity” for ratification is “closing fast,” but that there have recently been “positive developments.”
“Many countries, led by the two biggest emitters, China and the United States, have signaled their intent to ratify by the end of 2016, leaving just four countries and 1.72% of global emissions needed for it to become official,” the Climate Analytics analysis said.
The Obama administration has maintained that the Paris Agreement is not a legally binding treaty and therefore does not require Senate ratification, while Republicans have insisted that it does.
“One can only speculate how the administration plans to ratify the agreement without approval of the Senate,” the Science and Environmental Policy Project said in a Sunday statement. “But given the disregard the administration has demonstrated toward Congress and the Constitution, such speculation is fitting.”
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