Obama Pursues ‘Politically Binding’ International Global Climate Change Agreement

coal fired power plant photo

The Obama Administration is working on a sweeping international global climate change agreement that would reduce emissions, according to an article in The New York Times. The agreement would be signed at a UN summit in Paris next year.

President Obama is trying circumvent a polarized Senate, which would normally require a two-thirds vote for treaty ratification. It’s using a “politically binding” deal that would shame countries into reducing their emissions as part of this global climate change agreement.

According to The New York Times:

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.

Obama has already taken sweeping steps to cut emissions domestically. The Environmental Protection Agency proposed the strongest actions yet to limit greenhouse gas emissions. The proposed regulations would cut emissions by as much as 30 percent by 2030.

But in order to cut emissions globally and reduce the impact of global climate change, huge emitters like China and India would have to get on board with the U.S.

“There’s some legal and political magic to this,” Jake Schmidt, an expert in global climate negotiations with the Natural Resources Defense Council, an advocacy group said to The New York Times. “They’re trying to move this as far as possible without having to reach the 67-vote threshold” in the Senate.

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Image: Alan Stark