US senators demand Paris deal gets Senate vote regardless of legal form

Published 05:50 on November 20, 2015  /  Last updated at 22:43 on November 20, 2015  /  Americas, Climate Talks, International, US  /  No Comments

Two Republican and one Democrat senators on Thursday introduced a resolution demanding that any outcome from the UN climate summit in Paris, regardless of legal form, must be put to a Senate vote.

Two Republican and one Democrat senators on Thursday introduced a resolution demanding that any outcome from the UN climate summit in Paris, regardless of legal form, must be put to a Senate vote.

The resolution was put forward by senators Joe Manchin (D-WV), Jim Inhofe (R-OK) and Roy Blunt (R-MO), and intended to block a new international climate deal if it put US industry to a disadvantage to that of developing countries.

“The international community needs to be aware that U.S. Congress and the American people do not support President Obama’s international climate agenda,” said Inhofe, the chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, well known for his years of opposing climate change policies.

The resolution came after Secretary of State John Kerry last week said the Paris deal would not be legally binding, generally seen to reflect the Obama Administration’s need to implement the new agreement without having to pass it through its Republican-dominated legislature, which would block it.

It said that “it is the sense of the Senate that any protocol, amendment, extension, or other agreement relating to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change … shall have no force or effect in the United States and no funds shall be authorized in support of that protocol, amendment, extension, or other agreement, including for the Green Climate Fund, until that protocol, amendment, extension, or other agreement has been submitted to Senate for advice and consent”.

Regardless of legal form, the deal would have to go through Senate if it was found that:

– mitigation commitments put US industry at a disadvantage compared to those of developing countries;
– it includes financial commitments that would not go into effect without legislation or authorisation by Congress;
– it represents an agreement to be overseen by an international administrative entity covering a wide range of topics, including mitigation, adaptation, finance, technology transfer, capacity building, transparency, implementation, and compliance; or
– it establishes a mechanism to assess contributions or commitments for future compliance.

Any Paris deal is almost certain to include at least the last two of those four elements.

When publishing the resolution, the three senators echoed the same objections they have against the Clean Power Plan, that the Obama administration is over-reaching.

“President Obama has shown a total disregard for the limits of his authority and the interests of the American people when it comes to pushing his politically-driven climate agenda,” Blunt said.

“This Administration should not be able to unilaterally put American businesses at a disadvantage in the global economy by enacting unattainable and unproven mandates. The Senate must approve those agreements before they are enforced upon our people,” added Manchin.”

By Stian Reklev – stian@carbon-pulse.com

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