By Dr. Steven J. Allen | Capital Research Center
Published January 18, 2017
We Won’t Always Have Paris: Climate treaty reveals global elites’ dishonesty, extremism, lack of intelligence
The Paris climate treaty gives us a window into the thinking of the politicians and bureaucrats who cobbled it together.
It’s a treaty, committing the world’s governments to decisive action, supposedly against climate change. It’s also not a treaty, so that President Obama can bind the United States to it with the stroke of his pen. It’s binding on the new president, Donald Trump, and on future presidents because it’s a treaty, although it’s not. It is the law of the land, because the U.S. Senate somehow approved it by a two-thirds vote without ever actually voting on it, and even though most Senators have been and are against it. That’s because it’s merely an extension of an old treaty that the Senate ratified specifically on the ground that it couldn’t be thus extended and represents a commitment that the Senate declared unanimously must not be made.
The decisive action promised in the treaty that is not a treaty consists of governments, most of them run by dictators and thieves, promising, on an honor system, to take steps of their own choosing, including steps that are impossible, to change future weather patterns, and then coming up with ways by which they can measure their own progress and hold themselves accountable by their own standards for the promises they have made, on penalty of no punishment if they break their word.
But that’s OK, because the fact that the treaty imposes no penalties for breaking it means that it has no real effect, and, therefore, it’s not a treaty and doesn’t have to be ratified by the U.S. Senate.
It doesn’t really have much to do with climate change or with the extreme weather that was predicted from a degree of climate change that hasn’t actually happened but at some point might start happening in the past. Mainly, it’s about taking money from taxpayers and consumers and businesspeople and electricity ratepayers and giving it to crony capitalists, and taking money from people in relatively successful countries and giving that money to rich people in poor countries, to the benefit of members of governing elites who support the Paris deal for the good of humanity and not at all because they expect to line their pockets with it.
The Paris climate treaty, or the Paris climate agreement, or whatever it is, is intended by President Barack Obama to be his ultimate legacy, thrust on the world through a partnership between Obama and the Communist Chinese, the world’s worst polluters and worst human-rights violators, who really really want to be good this time.
If you think the Paris deal is a work of utter imbecility, well, you just don’t care about the fate of the planet. Got it?
The Senate says no
The Paris treaty is the result of a process that goes back to a conference in Rio de Janeiro in 1992. At that conference, called the Earth Summit, negotiators worked out a vague plan that they said they hoped would “stabilize greenhouse gas [GHG] concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic [that is, manmade] interference with the climate system.” To that stated purpose, they formalized the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
The UNFCCC set no national limits on human-caused GHG emissions and no mechanisms for enforcing any mandates for GHG reductions. Rather, it set up a framework for negotiating “protocols” with binding limits. In effect, it was a treaty to make treaties.
The Earth Summit, held during the U.S. presidential election year of 1992, was a political disaster for the administration of President George H.W. Bush. The U.S. and the Bush administration in particular were the targets of criticism from the representatives of the rest of the world. “America was put in the dock at Rio,” wrote Rupert Darwall in The Age of Global Warming, a history of the issue.
Nevertheless, Bush—who had run for president promising to “fight the greenhouse effect with the White House effect”—submitted the Rio treaty to the U.S. Senate. Senators ratified it in October 1992 on a voice vote with no debate, just as they rushed to leave Washington before the November election. As the Los Angeles Times put it on October 8, 1992: “With the 102nd Congress driving for adjournment, the controversial treaty was cleared for President Bush’s signature almost unnoticed.” With Bush’s signature, the U.S. became the first industrial nation to ratify the treaty.
Bush’s EPA administrator, William K. Reilly, had been so confident of ratification that, earlier that week, he had sent out a press release praising the Senate’s action, with an embargo delaying publication until Senate approval actually occurred.
Why no debate? Because the treaty didn’t do anything other than lay the foundation for future treaties. It had no effect on its own. To ensure that there would be no misunderstanding, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee made its position clear, reporting:
On the Climate Change Convention, the Foreign Relations Committee . . . noted that decisions by the parties to adopt targets and timetables for limiting emissions would have [to be] submitted to the Senate for advice and consent. It noted further: that a decision by the executive branch to reinterpret the Convention to apply legally binding targets and timetables for reducing emissions of greenhouse gases to the United States would alter the ‘‘shared understanding’’ of the Convention between the Senate and the executive branch and would therefore require the Senate’s advice and consent.
As further insurance against any attempt to pass off the Rio treaty as ratification of a climate regime, the Senate considered the Byrd-Hagel resolution in July 1997. The measure was sponsored by Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.), the Senate’s senior Democrat and former Majority Leader, and Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.), who would later be President Obama’s secretary of defense. The Byrd-Hagel resolution expressed “the sense of the Senate” regarding the then-upcoming conference related to the UNFCCC, to be held in Kyoto, Japan.
The resolution declared that—
the United States should not be a signatory to any protocol to, or other agreement regarding, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change of 1992, at negotiations in Kyoto in December 1997, or thereafter, which would . . . mandate new commitments to limit or reduce greenhouse gas emissions for the Annex I Parties [that is, the relatively successful “developed” countries], unless the protocol or other agreement also mandates new specific scheduled commitments to limit or reduce greenhouse gas emissions for Developing Country Parties [poor countries] within the same compliance period . . .
The resolution also provided that the U.S. should not be a signatory to any protocol/agreement that “would result in serious harm to the economy of the United States.”
Another provision of the Byrd-Hagel resolution laid down specific requirements related to the ratification process.
[A]ny such protocol or other agreement which would require the advice and consent of the Senate to ratification should be accompanied by a detailed explanation of any legislation or regulatory actions that may be required to implement the protocol or other agreement and should also be accompanied by an analysis of the detailed financial costs and other impacts on the economy of the United States which would be incurred by the implementation of the protocol or other agreement.
The Byrd-Hagel resolution passed 95 to zero.
Under the Constitution, the President “shall have Power, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, to make Treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present concur.” Given the 95-to-nothing vote, one might think that the Senate’s advice was pretty clear. The protocol negotiated in Kyoto definitely failed the Senate’s test outlined in the resolution—for example, by imposing legally binding GHG reductions on “developed” countries but not “developing” countries.
Nevertheless, in December 1997, the Clinton administration, represented by Vice President Al Gore, signed the Kyoto Protocol. But President Clinton accepted the Constitutional requirement that a treaty, to take effect, required a two-thirds vote of the Senate. There was no effort by that president to declare the Kyoto Protocol ratified without a Senate vote.
Sure to lose a ratification vote, President Clinton never submitted that treaty to the Senate, and his successor, President George W. Bush, expressly opposed the treaty, although he failed to withdraw the United States as a signatory. Without the participation of the United States, the Kyoto Protocol entered into force in 2005. Like his predecessors, President Obama declined to submit it to the Senate, not even early in his presidency when Democrats held 60 of 100 seats in the Senate.
Regarding treaty ratification, the Clinton administration had followed the Constitution, and largely because of that, the Kyoto Protocol failed to lay the foundation for a worldwide bureaucracy that would change the international order. Back then, even Bill Clinton saw the Constitution as something other than a joke.
In retrospect, following the Constitution was seen by many environmentalists as a mistake on Bill Clinton’s part. It was a mistake that Barack Obama did not intend to repeat. He would not let the Constitutional process for treaty ratification stand in his way. And he would not allow the American people to mess things up by, say, electing Donald Trump.
For help, the President turned to the Chinese Communists.
Obama + human rights violators = success
How was it possible for the Paris treaty to go into effect in less than a year after it was finalized in December 2015—three years ahead of schedule and faster than any comparable multinational treaty in history? Critical was the pro-treaty alliance of the Obama administration and the Chinese Communists. [For information on the Chinese Communists’ astonishingly bad record on human rights and the environment, see my article on the January 2015 issue of the Capital Research Center’s Green Watch, at http://capitalresearch.org/app/uploads/2015/01/GW1501-final-draft-141222-150106.pdf.]
Not surprisingly, the Chinese got the better end of the Paris deal.
On the U.S. side, the Paris deal commits the U.S. to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide 26% to 28% below 2005 levels by 2025. In addition, President Obama promised $3 billion over four years for the Green Climate Fund, supposedly to benefit the poorer, “developing” countries.
China’s Communists promised to reduce emissions starting in 2030, with 20 percent of the nation’s electricity coming from non-carbon-based sources by that year. Targeted emissions relative to the size of the economy would be reduced by 60-65 percent from the 2005 level (which means the emissions numbers would actually go up until 2030). China pledged only to cause things to happen that, most likely, were going to happen anyway. As noted by Oren Cass of the Manhattan Institute, the U.S. government’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory had already projected that China’s targeted emissions would peak around 2030, and, according to a Bloomberg analysis, the reduction by 2030 relative to the size of the economy is less than what was expected without the Paris treaty.
Lined up together, the U.S. and China could jointly put pressure on the rest of the world. Prominent environmentalist Stephen Chu suggested such an alliance in 2010 when he was President Obama’s secretary of energy.
In a May 2010 report in Wired magazine, Daniel Roth reported that Secretary Chu considered China “the key to America’s long-term energy future. Since the U.S. and China produce some 40 percent of the world’s [artificial] carbon dioxide emissions, Chu argues that far-reaching multicountry agreements aren’t really necessary. . . . It’s smarter to deal with China alone. A massive investment by the U.S. and China, and a series of strong treaties between the two countries, would have a big effect on actual emissions, and the pacts would also serve as a model and inspiration for other countries. . . . If they could agree, others would feel the logjam had broken and follow along. It’s like a high school movie: Once the jocks and the nerds unite for a common cause, everyone falls in line.”
So that was the plan: The United States teamed up with the most corrupt and murderous government in the world in order to bully the rest of the world, with the result that “everyone falls in line.”
Like a flash
After the Paris treaty was finalized, it was approved in a blur. Negotiations were completed on December 12, 2015, and the treaty was opened for signatures on April 22, Earth Day 2016. United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon announced on October 5 that the agreement had met the threshold (55 countries with 55 percent of the targeted emissions) and would take effect November 4.
Why did countries hurry to sign on to the treaty? One reason for the rush was that any country that failed to give final approval in time would be shut out of the early process for making rules under the treaty. To participate, they had to be parties before the Conference of Parties, November 7-18, 2016, in Marrakech, Morocco.
More importantly, though: Participants in the treaty process understood the need to make the treaty invulnerable to the democratic process in the U.S.—to finish the work before a new president could intervene.
Russian presidential adviser Alexander Bedritsky admitted on November 8, Election Day in the U.S., that the almost immediate approval of the treaty was initiated by the Obama administration out of fear that a new president might cancel the deal.
Ségolène Royal, president of the Conference of Parties of the UNFCCC, French environmental minister, and mother of four children by France’s socialist President François Hollande, pointed out that no multinational treaty had ever taken effect as quickly.
White House press secretary Josh Earnest noted that multilateral, United Nations-backed agreements “typically take multiple years, if not decades, to enter into force. And the fact that this agreement will take effect in less than a year is not just a historic accomplishment, it’s a historic commitment to fulfilling the terms of the deal in a way that will have enormous positive benefits for the planet.”
Martin Shulz, president of the European Parliament, celebrated: “The entry into force of the Paris agreement less than one year after its signature is a massive achievement, given that it took eight years” from 1997 to 2005 for the Kyoto agreement to take effect. The Kyoto agreement, of course, took effect without the U.S. as a party.
At ThinkProgress, a website closely affiliated with Hillary Clinton’s campaign, Natasha Geiling wrote:
The possibility of a Trump presidency actually helped spur countries to ratify the agreement on an accelerated timeline, and the agreement officially went into effect on November 4. The agreement itself includes a clause for withdrawal that requires countries to wait three years after the agreement goes into effect to pull out—from that point, it takes a country a full year to officially leave the agreement. That would mean that, technically, the Paris agreement looks to be Trump-proof, at least through his first term.
Eric Holthaus of the left-wing online magazine Slate asserted, “in fact, the Paris Agreement was specifically designed to withstand a Trump presidency—it’s already gone into force, meaning it’s legally binding for the countries that agreed to it.”
Yasuo Takeuchi of Japan’s Nikkei Asian Review wrote that—
it took seven years from when its predecessor, the Kyoto Protocol, was adopted until it went into force. The driving force behind the rapidity this time around came from the U.S. and China, the world’s biggest emitters of greenhouse gases [sic; more accurately, the biggest artificial emitters]. On Sept. 3, Obama and his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, jointly announced their countries’ ratification of the Paris Agreement. In late September, it was reported that India, which had seemed unenthusiastic about climate change talks until then, was ready to ratify the accord. That pushed the EU to move, with French President Francois Hollande saying Europe could not let itself fall behind other countries. The EU took the unusual step of ratifying the accord as a bloc, without waiting for responses from member nations. This means the agreement takes effect before COP22 starts on Nov. 7 in Marrakech, Morocco.
Why were these countries in such a rush to ratify the accord? For the U.S., Obama was looking to add another achievement to his list of accomplishments before leaving office next January. Ratification before the presidential election on Nov. 8 was also desirable.
Alistair Doyle of Reuters:
The relatively speedy ratification of the climate pact, a year before many predictions, was partly driven by Trump’s threats to reject the accord. Some delegates played down the risk of a President Trump reneging on the deal.
“The momentum is such that it would take a heck of a climate sceptic to back pedal,” said Tosi Mpanu Mpanu of the Democratic Republic of Congo, who heads the group of 48 Least Developed Countries at the Morocco negotiations. “That’s really why we have had this strong mobilisation (to ratify). If Trump wins I don’t think it will change anything.”
Its entry into force gives some protection for the Paris Agreement under international law. Its Article 28 says any government wanting to quit has to wait through four years of formalities—the length of a U.S. presidential term.
A Marrakech participant, Simon Donner, a University of British Columbia geography professor and environmentalist activist, said, “The [Paris] agreement was in a way designed to be Congress-proof, and now there’s a real push here in Marrakech to put the plan in place in a way that makes it really Trump-proof, so that there’s agreement from other countries that they’re going to take action regardless of what happens in the United States.”
Trump: No way
Even if Hillary Clinton were to be elected president, there was reason to hurry, to have the treaty finalized and in force before she took office. That was to give her political cover. With the treaty solidly in place, she would be able to blame Paris commitments for virtually any environmental law or regulation. (“Sorry, coal miners in Pennsylvania, but my hands are tied!”) Federal judges, most of them appointed by Obama or one of the Clintons, and bureaucrats, who are overwhelmingly left-wing and do not answer to the democratic process, would in the Clinton 45 administration enforce all manner of restrictions under the cover of Paris and, if Republicans controlled Congress, would make Congress irrelevant to the process.
On the other hand, in the unlikely (!) event that Donald Trump were elected, it would be necessary to erect obstacles in his path. Trump has been a vocal critic of rules and regulations rooted in Global Warming ideology. He has expressed a strong preference for policies designed to keep electricity and transportation affordable and for fighting pollution rather than carbon dioxide. His transition team and early Cabinet and sub-Cabinet appointments, for the most part, indicate that he will take a scientific rather than environmentalist approach.
In May 2016, Trump addressed energy issues and pledged to dump the Paris treaty. “President Obama entered the United States into the Paris climate accords unilaterally and without the permission of Congress,” said Trump . “This agreement gives foreign bureaucrats control over how much our energy [costs] and how much we use right here in America. So foreign bureaucrats are going to be controlling what we’re using and what we’re doing on our land in our country. No way. No way.”
Said Trump: “We’re going to cancel the Paris climate agreement and stop—unbelievable!—and stop all payments of the United States tax dollars to U.N. Global Warming programs.”
The Paris treaty is ineffectual against the “developing” countries that are increasing their carbon emissions, but it could be a useful tool against a U.S. government led by Donald Trump. The axis of environmentalist groups, bureaucrats, and left-wing judges could use the treaty to thwart Trump, even with Republicans in charge of Congress. Writing last February, the Competitive Enterprise Institute’s Marlo Lewis (a contributor to Capital Research Center publications) warned:
Far from being toothless, the Paris Agreement is the framework for a multi-decade global campaign of political pressure directed chiefly against Republican leaders, Red State voters, and the fossil fuel industry. Specifically, the treaty is designed to advance three political objectives:
Deter the next president, future Congresses, and even courts from overturning the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) so-called Clean Power Plan (CPP) and other climate regulations, including some not yet proposed, by rebranding those policies as “promises” America has made to the world.
Pressure future U.S. policy makers to make increasingly “ambitious” emission-reduction pledges—known as Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs)—every five years starting in 2020, implement those pledges via ever-more stringent regulations, and pony up untold billions in “climate finance”—foreign aid to subsidize “green energy” ventures in developing countries.
Make U.S. energy and climate policy increasingly unaccountable to Congress and to the American people, and increasingly beholden to the demands of foreign leaders, multilateral bureaucrats, international pressure groups, and their media allies.
Anne Usher at Politico wrote before the election that—
even if Trump is elected, taking down Paris is going to be a lot harder than he thinks. That’s certainly the view of Jonathan Pershing, President Obama’s new climate envoy, who’s rushing to Trump-proof America’s commitment to the pact—minimizing ways in which a President Trump could obstruct the global carbon reduction plan. . . .
Formally speaking, Trump can’t just wave a wand and pull the United States out of the Paris agreement; to leave it officially would require the United States to first wait three years, and then give a one-year notice—effectively putting a withdrawal beyond the next presidential election. Nor could Trump hope to renegotiate the international climate accord, which was reached by more than 170 countries after nearly 25 years’ worth of backroom meetings and formal negotiations. A President Trump would not be able to herd all those diplomats back to the table.
Rules for some
Keep in mind that the Paris treaty goes directly against the U.S. Senate’s Byrd-Hagel resolution of 1997 because of its disproportionate impact on the United States. Largely due to fracking and the increased use of natural gas (which produces less carbon dioxide than equivalent amounts of coal and oil), the U.S. has reduced its artificial carbon dioxide emissions by 13 percent since 2005. While U.S. numbers have gone down, China had a 69 percent increase, and India a 53 percent increase.
President Obama’s effort to shut down the coal industry and coal-fired power plants in the U.S. is not matched in the rest of the world. As of October 2015, there were 510 coal fired power plants under construction in the world with a further 1,874 planned, a total of 2,384. China accounted for 136 under construction and an additional 639 planned, while India had 177 under construction and 539 more planned.
Russia’s commitment under the Paris treaty, which it set for itself, sounds significant: a 25-30 percent reduction by 2030 from 1990 levels of artificial carbon dioxide emissions. The problem: After 1990, the collapse of the Soviet Union’s economy caused Russian levels to fall rapidly, so that the “reduction” from 1990 levels is actually a 40 percent increase from today’s level. Also, Russia wants credit for the absorption of carbon dioxide by forests that, following the Soviet collapse, grew where farmland had been abandoned. About half of Russia is covered by forest, and that offset in 2012 reduced the official Russian emissions amount by 18 percent.
India’s promise under the Paris treaty was to reduce targeted emissions by 33-35 percent by 2030 compared to 2005, relative to the size of the economy. That promise, even if kept, means that India’s targeted emissions might keep going up forever. As with China, India’s promise is no more than what was expected to happen, Paris or no Paris. But that didn’t stop the Indian government from claiming that, to follow through, it needs $2.5 trillion from the rest of the world, almost $2,000 per Indian, an amount almost 25 percent larger than India’s economy.
That highlights the reason that the “developing” countries rushed to sign onto the Paris treat, and why leaders of those countries proclaim an unshakeable belief in catastrophic manmade Global Warming. There’s money to be made, particularly for the elites who will share the bounty.
The stated rationale for international “climate finance” is that the world’s better-off countries attained their wealth largely by exploiting the environment to the detriment of the earth and especially to the detriment of poorer countries. Because of Global Warming, we simply cannot allow the poorer countries to do the same thing we did—so, in fairness, they must be compensated for the harm we have done to them and for the economic growth they must forgo. Also, if “developed” countries push non-carbon sources of energy on “developing” countries, money will flow into the non-carbon energy sector (wind, solar, biofuels, et al.), benefiting both the ruling classes of poorer countries and those who invest in or make their living from non-carbon energy.
Under the Paris treaty the poorer countries were promised more than $100 billion a year. It was a win-win for everyone except the people paying for it or losing their jobs because of it or being trapped in poverty because of it.
Of the $3 billion over four years that President Obama promised for the Green Climate Fund, only about $500 million has been transferred. That’s the amount that was in a State Department account the President could raid for that purpose without the approval of Congress. Given the fact that the $3 billion was an integral part of the deal, many are upset by the fact that $2.5 billion remains outstanding.
The U.K.’s Guardian newspaper reported December 20, 2016:
More than 100 climate and development organisations, along with 70,000 people, have called on Barack Obama to help secure the future of the Paris agreement by transferring the remaining $2.5bn committed by the US.
The Green Climate Fund was a key aspect of the historic Paris agreement signed in 2015, which aims to keep global warming “well below” 2C and aspires to keep warming to 1.5C. The fund, established in 2010, is financed by wealthy countries and used to assist developing countries with adaptation and mitigation. It was widely seen as a key measure to bring both rich and poor countries to the negotiating table.
The US pledged $3bn towards the fund, making up nearly a third of the $10.3bn pledged in total. But so far, it has only transferred $500m. “This is one of the only things Obama can do now that Trump can’t undo,” said Jesse Bragg from Corporate Accountability International, the group that organised the petitions. “Once those funds are transferred, Trump won’t be able to take them back.”
As of today, 117 organisations including 350.org, Friends of the Earth and the League of Conservation Voters have joined with Corporate Accountability International to deliver a petition signed by more than 70,000 to the Obama administration. The organisations signed a letter saying: “The world cannot afford Donald Trump’s steps backward on climate. Right now, people around the world are mobilising to counter Trump’s anticipated actions. You can help us protect your climate legacy by fulfilling your pledge to contribute $3bn to fund climate justice measures in the Global South.” [The “Global South” is what used to be called the Third World.]
Effect and cost
According to the Heritage Foundation, a greenhouse gas/climate model by the National Center for Atmospheric Research indicates that, if the U.S. eliminated all artificial carbon dioxide emissions, the effect on global temperatures would be less than two-tenths of a degree on the Celsius scale. Eliminating all artificial carbon dioxide emissions throughout the industrialized world would have an effect of less than four-tenths of a degree. (For perspective, the current average earth temperature is said to be slightly more than 288 degrees Kelvin, equivalent to 15 degrees Celsius and 59 degrees Fahrenheit. Environmentalists use the Celsius scale, which makes temperature changes appear much bigger than they are. A change from, say, 15 degrees to 16 degrees Celsius is exactly the same as a change from 288.15 degrees to 289.15 degrees Kelvin—yet the former seems much more significant than the latter.)
Indeed, if the U.S. were to abide by the Paris treaty in the manner—if it were to be bound by the promises made by President Obama in connection with the treaty—it would cost the U.S. many thousands of jobs. The Heritage Foundation used the National Energy Modeling System 2015, a computer model created by the U.S. Department of Energy, to project that the Paris treaty would mean, by the year 2035, a loss of nearly 400,000 jobs (including more than 200,000 in manufacturing), a hike of 13-20 percent in household electricity prices, a loss of $2.5 trillion in the national economy, and an income loss of more than $20,000 for a typical family of four.
And how much Global Warming would be prevented by the Paris treaty? MIT’s Joint Program on the Science and Politics of Global Change calculated the difference in temperature, even if all the world’s countries keep the promises they made under the treaty: two-tenths of a degree Celsius. Other calculations put the figure at between one-tenth and two-tenths.
It’s not really about the temperature, of course. When, at an event in April 2015, Todd Stern, President Obama’s chief negotiator on the climate change issue, asked Sam Kutesa, president of the U.N. General Assembly, what it would take to get a Paris agreement, Kutesa replied: “Money.”
The cost, as reported by Andrew Follett in the Daily Caller: perhaps $12.1 trillion over the next 25 years. When energy efficiency measures are included, the cost could be $16.5 trillion by 2030.
“The required expenditure averages about $484 billion a year over the period,” calculated Bloomberg New Energy Finance with the assistance of the environmentalist nonprofit Ceres.
That’s almost as much money the U.S. federal government spent on defense in 2015, according to 2015 spending numbers from the bipartisan Committee For Responsible Federal Budget. The required annual spending is almost 3.7 times more than the $131.57 billion China spent on its military in 2014.
Bloomberg’s estimates are likely low, as they exclude costly energy efficiency measures. The amount spent to meet global carbon dioxide emissions reduction goals could be as high as $16.5 trillion between now and 2030, when energy efficiency measures are included, according to projections from the International Energy Agency. To put these numbers in perspective, the U.S. government is just under $19 trillion in debt and only produced $17.4 trillion in gross domestic product in 2014.
Those numbers represent spending on Global Warming that is greater than the combined income of the world’s billion poorest people. And that cost may be underestimated: English columnist James Delingpole estimates the size of the “climate change industry” at $1.5 trillion a year. Even Bill Gates, the Microsoft billionaire, admitted that the cost of reducing artificial greenhouse gas emissions to the extent recommended by the UNFCCC would be “beyond astronomical.”
Much of the money goes to crony-capitalist businesses. For example, according to the Taxpayer Protection Alliance, U.S. taxpayers spend $39 billion a year, roughly $490 for a family of four, just to promote solar energy—essentially, propping up an entire industry through subsidies and mandates. In 2014, solar provided 0.4 percent of U.S. energy. (Ironically, fracking, which environmentalists vehemently oppose, has cut U.S. carbon dioxide emissions by 13 times as much as solar.) But the election of Hillary Clinton would have put the full weight of the federal government behind the industry; she promised to install 500 million solar panels.
How do you solve a problem like the Constitution?
“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,” Coral Davenport reported in the New York Times in August 2014.
. . . 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. . . .
“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 the 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. . . .
“There’s some legal and political magic to this,” said Jake Schmidt, an expert in global climate negotiations with the Natural Resources Defense Council, and advocacy group. “They’re trying to move this as far as possible without having to reach the 67-vote threshold” in the Senate.
“Magic”—as in “magic trick.”
Long before the prospect of Donald Trump as president, the Obama administration recognized Republicans in Congress as a roadblock to a climate regime. Josh Earnest, the White House press secretary, mocked, “I think it’s hard to take seriously from some members of Congress who deny the fact that climate change exists, that they should have some opportunity to render judgment about a climate change agreement.” (Actually, given that the earth would be uninhabitable by humans without climate change, the existence of climate change is not at issue.)
Mr. Obama holds his crosstown adversaries in contempt. Former Obama Defense Secretary Leon Panetta once noted that President Obama saw Republicans in Congress as “people that simply won’t—don’t wanna do the right thing for the country.” So, given his views on the Constitution, why would he let them have a chance to get in his way?
Jonathan S. Tobin wrote in Commentary (November 30, 2015):
Why will a pact that will have such a far-reaching impact on the American economy and that will create a vast new federal entitlement not be submitted to Congress for approval? Did someone amend the Constitution while we were dozing and allow the president to conclude treaties on his own without having to submit them, as the Constitution mandates, for the advice and consent of the Senate?
The answer to that question is so painfully obvious that few feel the need to mention it. As Secretary of State John Kerry noted in his testimony to Congress about the Iran nuclear deal—another treaty that the administration chose not to consider a treaty—it’s just too hard to get 67 votes for something the White House and the foreign policy establishment supports. So rather than do the hard political work of persuading Congress of the wisdom of a pact the president supports, Obama chooses to ignore the Constitution and commit the United States to deals that will impact the lives of ordinary Americans without bespeaking the permission of their representatives and Senators as the Founding Fathers insisted he must. . . .
If a climate treaty that is not called a treaty, but which will place the U.S. under these kinds of onerous obligations is put into effect without even the fig leaf of an approval process, then we will have truly taken a step toward a kind of presidential government that is utterly alien to the model of representative democracy that is the foundation of the American constitutional system.
At such moments, it’s apt to remember that the Article II, Section 2, Clause 2 of the Constitution specifically states that the power of the president to make treaties is specifically limited to those that have the support of two-thirds of the Senate. Moreover, as Alexander Hamilton stated in the Federalist Papers [essays explaining the proposed Constitution], the reason for this provision is that to give to presidents that are no more than “elective magistrates” the “entire power of making treaties” would be to give them the status of a “hereditary monarch.”
Regarding the power to make treaties, Hamilton also wrote, “The history of human conduct does not warrant that exalted opinion of human virtue which would make it wise in a nation to commit interests of so delicate and momentous a kind, as those which concern its intercourse with the rest of the world, to the sole disposal of a magistrate created and circumstanced as would be a President of the United States. . . . the joint possession of the power in question, by the President and Senate, would afford a greater prospect of security, than the separate possession of it by either of them.”
Jim DeMint, president of the Heritage Foundation and a former U.S. Senator from South Carolina, noted the President’s not-a-treaty ruse.
Despite the pomp and circumstance of a U.N. Headquarters signing ceremony, President Obama claims that the Paris Agreement is not a treaty. Since he claims it is not a treaty, he does not plan to submit the Agreement to the Senate for approval.
The problem is that the Paris Agreement is certainly a treaty. I reviewed enough treaties during my time in the Senate where I served on the Foreign Relations Committee to know. But don’t take my word for it. The State Department’s internal guidelines make clear that the Paris Agreement is a treaty.
Those guidelines, known as the “Circular 175” procedure, demonstrate that the Paris Agreement is a treaty. For example, the Agreement makes environmental commitments that affect the U.S. as a whole. The Agreement is formal and complex rather than informal and routine. The Agreement is open-ended and requires the U.S. to deliver untold billions of dollars to a “Green Climate Fund” for redistribution around the world to pay for “green projects” in foreign countries. These all indicate that the Agreement is a treaty and not a mere executive agreement, as the president claims.
Former UN Ambassador John Bolton and former George W. Bush Justice Department official John Yoo wrote in a December 1, 2015 Los Angeles Timesop-ed:
The Obama administration has made contradictory statements about whether a Paris agreement will be binding. Treaties are the most formal international pacts the U.S. makes. But last month, Secretary of State John F. Kerry said that any deal was “definitively not going to be a treaty.” State Department officials backtracked the next day: “The U.S. is pressing for an agreement that contains both legally binding and non-legally binding provisions.” In the summer, officials said they would negotiate a “politically binding deal.” . . .
[Because a climate treaty would be dead on arrival in the U.S. Senate] Obama may try to thread the needle with an executive agreement, which does not involve Senate consent. The U.S. has made roughly 1,100 treaties in its history, but it has made about 18,500 executive agreements—17,300 of them since 1939. While attractive to all presidents, executive agreements rest uneasily under the Constitution, which authorizes treaties only. Nevertheless, in U.S. vs. Belmont, the Supreme Court blessed President Franklin Roosevelt’s executive agreement to recognize the Soviet Union. “An international compact, as this was, is not always a treaty which requires the participation of the Senate,” wrote Justice George Sutherland, although he did not explain the difference.
Logic and Constitutional history lead to the conclusion that, absent a treaty approved by the Senate, a U.S. president may make an international agreement to do or not do things that are within the scope of a president’s powers, a commitment from which he or she may withdraw. Certainly, a president cannot make a promise that extends past his or her term in office to bind future presidents.
If the Paris treaty is not a treaty, any U.S. obligations under the agreement will cease at noon on January 20, 2017 unless extended by the new president.
And if it is a treaty, President Trump may be able to abrogate it as President Bush did with the Antiballistic Missile Treaty in 2002. (A president cannot make a treaty without two-thirds of the Senate, but can unmake one unilaterally.)
President Obama and his State Department think they have ways around this problem. For example, an agreement can be effectively binding if it’s extremely difficult for a new president to extricate himself or herself. Take the Iran nuclear deal: It lifted international sanctions, opening the floodgates for the world’s businesses such as Boeing to line up deals with Iran to such an extent that the re-imposition of sanctions may not be possible. President Trump, an opponent of the Iran deal, may find that, as a practical matter, the deal or major parts of it can’t be undone.
Or take the recent anti-Israel resolution in the United Nations, a measure engineered by the Obama administration, that declared even the Western Wall, the holiest site in Judaism where Jews may pray, to be in territory illegally occupied by Israel. The Security Council vote was 14-0, thanks to the U.S. “abstention” (effectively a yes vote, because the Obama administration could have exercised its veto). That anti-Israel balance of the Security Council, along with the possession of veto power by the anti-Israel governments of China and Russia, won’t change in the foreseeable future, so there’s nothing a President Trump can do about it, not directly anyway. “You can’t undo a Security Council resolution,” said retired Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz, a prominent supporter of the Jewish state.
An international agreement might also be considered “politically binding” if the punishment for failing to comply is sufficient to intimidate a country into compliance. Certainly, the U.S. government in the past eight years has been so weak, so unwilling to stand up for the country’s interests that one can imagine the government complying meekly rather than face sanctions.
Indeed, the threat of anti-U.S. sanctions is in the air. Nicolas Sarkozy, the former president of France who was seeking to return to office, suggested that a carbon tax be imposed on U.S. goods by other countries. “I will demand that Europe put in place a carbon tax at its border, a tax of one to three percent, for all products coming from the United States, if the United States doesn’t apply environmental rules that we are imposing on our companies,” Sarkozy said. (Soon after he made the threat, Sarkozy, who had been considered a front-running candidate for president, lost his party’s primary.)
Coral Davenport of the New York Times reported during the Marrakech conference that, “On the sidelines of the negotiations, some diplomats turned from talking about rising seas and climbing temperatures toward how to punish the United States if Mr. Trump follows through [on his threat to withdraw], possibly with a carbon-pollution [sic; they mean carbon dioxide, which all plants need to live] tax on imports of American-made goods.”
“A carbon tariff against the United States is an option for us,” said Rodolfo Lacy Tamayo, Mexico’s under secretary for environmental policy and planning. “We will apply any kind of policy necessary to defend the quality of life for our people, to protect our environment and to protect our industries.” Said Dirk Forrister, president and CEO of the International Emissions Trading Organization: “There is no need to start a trade war over climate change. But it might happen.”
Ilana Solomon of the Sierra Club wrote of using trade policy to put Paris-related restrictions in place.
To safeguard the Paris agreement, we urgently need to bring trade policy into alignment with climate policy. . . . This could include, for example, writing into trade agreements rules that prevent challenges to climate policies. It could include mandating that countries put in place and implement the policies necessary to fulfill their Paris climate commitments. It could include replacing the investor-state system with new rules that help protect investments [read: government spending] in renewable energy. And it could include rules that not only protect the ability of governments to limit fossil fuels and encourage clean [read: non-carbon] energy, but actually require such forward-thinking policies.
However, even the Chinese climate negotiator, Liu Zhenmin, walked away from the idea of a carbon trade war, saying that “Addressing climate change should not be an obstacle for promoting trade.”
Another way an agreement can be made “politically binding” is if Congress passes laws in accord with the agreement, such that those laws probably can’t be undone any time soon. Among the impediments to undoing a law is the filibuster, by which 40 U.S. Senators out of 100 can block repeal.
A variation of this technique involves bureaucrats teaming up with advocacy groups and judges to override the will of the people as expressed through their elected officials. Under the technique known as “sue and settle,” interest groups sue friendly bureaucrats to “force” them to do things they want to do but for which they have questionable legal authority. The bureaucrats roll over, declining to defend themselves; then, friendly judges issue orders requiring them to do the things they wanted to do all along.
Barbara Hollingsworth of CNSNews reported in September 2014 on the warning issued by Chris Horner of the Competitive Enterprise Institute, that Obama administration officials already had a strategy for turning an accord into law, even if the accord was technically non-binding.
[According to Horner], environmental activists are already planning to employ the same collusive sue-and-settle strategy they have used in the past to impose draconian energy restrictions on all Americans even though there’s been no global warming for nearly 18 years.
“It’s quite clear under Article 2, Section 2 of the Constitution that after the president signs it, any binding international law agreement has to be ratified by the Senate,” Horner explained. But he noted that “activist green groups, in conjunction with the New York attorney general’s office, have already developed plans to use the federal courts to force Americans to drastically reduce their energy consumption whether or not Obama signs a new climate change treaty in Paris next year” to replace the expired Kyoto Protocol.
Horner predicted the White House strategy in a 2009 paper published by the Federalist Society, in which he wrote: “It appears that Kyoto will be the subject of a controversial effort to sharply revise U.S. environmental treaty practice . . . waiving the Constitution’s requirement of Senate ratification by reclassifying the product of talks as a congressional-Executive agreement, not a treaty.”
”You can’t just dismiss this if you know what they’re trying to do,” Horner said, pointing to a copy of a court pleading drafted by environmental activists that he received from the New York attorney general’s office under a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request two years ago.
The draft lawsuit argues that the federal government should be required to honor its international commitments even if they are not ratified by the Senate.
The strategy was confirmed in June by Yvo De Boer, the UN’s former climate chief. “If the U.S. feels that ‘internationally legally binding’ has little value, and that the real value lies in legally-binding national commitments, then these regulations can be the way for the U.S. to show leadership,” De Boer said.
“We know where this is going,” Horner told CNSNews.com. “As they intend, it will end up in the courts, not the Senate. The issue would come down to ‘How do you implement it?’ and that is where stunts like the NY AG’s come in. You get a court to turn these gestures into law and/or a friendly administration to roll over and get a court’s blessing by settling a ‘sue-and-settle’ case.”
If bureaucrats, activists, and judges deem that, say, certain environmental regulations are necessary in order for the U.S. to meet its international commitments, they can effectively “ratify” a treaty without going through the Senate.
Ineffective, so ratification not needed
In November 2015, French President François Hollande declared that if the Paris treaty “is not legally binding, there is no agreement.” Yet the treaty’s very non-bindingness works to the legal advantage of treaty supporters who claim that it is not a treaty.
One way around the Constitutional requirement for a two-thirds vote in the Senate is to present the treaty as not a treaty because it is not binding at all. At a previous conference to set up an international climate regime, in Copenhagen in 2009, multiple developing countries such as China, India, Brazil, and South Africa refused to accept anything that would bind them in a way that prevents economic development. Forbes contributor Jeff McMahon, December 2, 2015:
In the final hours of the Copenhagen summit, President Obama and the leaders of China, India, Brazil and South Africa broke the impasse by agreeing that nations would be permitted to set targets that fit their unique opportunities and challenges—by submitting what came to be known as intended nationally determined contributions (INDCs).
INDCs will be the basis for any Paris agreement. They will be voluntary. They will be domestically determined by each participating nation (184 have submitted them so far). But they will likely be supported by a foundation of legally binding elements.
Claiming that certain aspects of the Paris treaty can be legally binding even if it’s not a treaty, Todd Stern, the Obama administration’s special envoy for climate change, said, “We support an agreement that’s legally binding in many respects, including the elements of accountability of the agreement, the requirement to put forward a target, to do it with information that clarifies it, the obligation to report and be reviewed on your inventories and the actions you’re taking in order to meet your target. Any number of rules and so forth—so a whole number of elements that are legally binding, but not the target itself.” The argument is that, because the Paris treaty merely requires the disclosure of information and the fulfillment of other minor obligations, it doesn’t rise to the level of commitment that makes it a treaty which the Senate must approve.
In November 2015, as negotiators were finalizing the deal, Oren Cass of the Manhattan Institute wrote in Politico:
“This year, in Paris, has to be the year that the world finally reaches an agreement to protect the one planet that we’ve got while we still can,” said U.S. President Barack Obama on his recent trip to Alaska. Miguel Cañete, the EU’s chief negotiator, has warned there is “no Plan B—nothing to follow. This is not just ongoing UN discussions. Paris is final.”
But the more seriously you take the need to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions, the angrier you should be about the plan for Paris. With so much political capital and so many legacies staked to achieving an “agreement” — any agreement — negotiators have opted to pursue one worth less than…well, certainly less than the cost of a two-week summit in a glamorous European capital. . . .
Conventional wisdom holds that negotiators are hashing out a fair allocation of the deep emissions cuts all countries would need to make to limit warming. That image bears little resemblance to reality.
In fact, emissions reductions are barely on the table at all. Instead, the talks are rigged to ensure an agreement is reached regardless of how little action countries plan to take. The developing world, projected to account for four-fifths of all carbon-dioxide emissions this century, will earn applause for what amounts to a promise to stay on their pre-existing trajectory of emissions-intensive growth.
As noted, under the negotiating framework for Paris, each participating country was required to submit a plan for reducing targeted emissions, called an “Intended Nationally Determined Contribution” (INDC). Each country got to write the plan for itself, with no specifically required elements or goals. Oren Cass:
Beyond that, it’s nearly impossible even to evaluate or compare [the plans from different countries]. Developing countries actually blocked a requirement that the plans use a common format and metrics, so an INDC need not even mention emissions levels. Or a country can propose to reduce emissions off a self-defined “business-as-usual” trajectory, essentially deciding how much it wants to emit and then declaring it an “improvement” from the alternative.
To prevent such submissions from being challenged, a group of developing countries led by China and India has rejected “any obligatory review mechanism for increasing individual efforts of developing countries.” And lest pressure nevertheless build on the intransigent, no developing country except Mexico submitted an INDC by the initial deadline of March 31 —and most either submitted no plan or submitted one only as the final September 30 cut-off approached.
After all this, the final submissions are not enforceable, and carry no consequences beyond “shame” for noncompliance—a fact bizarrely taken for granted by all involved.
Steven Groves and Nicolas Loris of the Heritage Foundation:
[E]ven Secretary of State John Kerry admitted during the negotiations last December that, “If all the industrial nations went down to zero emissions—remember what I just said, all the industrial emissions went down to zero emissions—it wouldn’t be enough, not when more than 65 percent of the world’s carbon pollution comes from the developing world.”
The commitments the developing world made during the Paris negotiations cannot be trusted as meaningful carbon dioxide cuts. Nor should they be. The cost of allowing third-world poverty to persist—and the role that energy development can play in alleviating that poverty—is far clearer, more threatening, and more easily solvable than the vague and unsubstantiated risks posed by carbon emissions.
The pledges are not taken seriously by serious people. Indeed, many “developing” countries—the countries most likely to have large increases in targeted emissions in the decades to come—aren’t even able to make a good guess about what the future holds for them. They are reduced to outsourcing the guesses that they are obliged to make under the Paris treaty. Friday Phiri, writing for the Inter Press Agency, October 31, 2016:
[W]hile some African countries are among the 86 Parties that had ratified the [Paris] Agreement by Oct. 27, an analysis by the African Climate Policy Centre (ACPC) of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) has revealed that most African NDCs are vague in their adaptation and mitigation aspirations.
“There are still a number of challenges with the submissions of many developing countries, including vagueness in their mitigation ambitions and adaptation aspirations; lack of cost estimates, no indication of sources of funding and in some cases, pledges of mitigation commitments that exceed their current levels of emissions, among others,” Johnson Nkem of ACPC told IPS during the Sixth Conference on Climate Change and Development in Africa (CCDA VI), held from Oct. 18-20.
Nkem sympathises with most African countries, which he said had to outsource the development of their INDCs due to lack of capacity and resources to do so on their own.
Yes, some countries made “pledges of mitigation commitments that exceed their current levels of emissions.” In other words, they promised to reduce their targeted emissions by more than 100 percent. Even for people who believe strongly in the tangled web of theories underlying fears of catastrophic manmade Global Warming, the Paris treaty seems ridiculous. The U.K. newspaper The Guardian on December 12, 2015, noted the skepticism about the just-finalized Paris deal that was expressed by James Hansen, one of the leading advocates of Global Warming theory. (In this excerpt, Hansen mentions the “2C warming target,” a reference to claims by Global Warming theorists that limiting targeted emissions to a certain level would halt Global Warming at two degrees Celsius above the levels of the Little Ice Age, which ended in the early to mid-1800s.)
Mere mention of the Paris climate talks is enough to make James Hansen grumpy. The former NASA scientist, considered the father of global awareness of climate change, is a soft-spoken, almost diffident Iowan. But when he talks about the gathering of nearly 200 nations, his demeanour changes.
“It’s a fraud really, a fake,” he says, rubbing his head. “It’s just bull***t for them to say: ‘We’ll have a 2C warming target and then try to do a little better every five years.’ It’s just worthless words. There is no action, just promises. As long as fossil fuels appear to be the cheapest fuels out there, they will be continued to be burned.”
The talks, intended to reach a new global deal on cutting carbon emissions beyond 2020, have spent much time and energy on two major issues: whether the world should aim to contain the temperature rise to 1.5C or 2C above preindustrial levels, and how much funding should be doled out by wealthy countries to developing nations that risk being swamped by rising seas and bashed by escalating extreme weather events.
But, according to Hansen, the international jamboree is pointless unless greenhouse gas emissions are taxed across the board. He argues that only this will force down emissions quickly enough to avoid the worst ravages of climate change. Hansen, 74, has just returned from Paris where he again called for a price to be placed on each tonne of carbon from major emitters (he’s suggested a “fee”—because “taxes scare people off”—of $15 a tonne that would rise $10 a year and bring in $600 [billion] in the US alone).
A carbon tax would have to be high in order to have a significant effect, given the calculations of those who support Global Warming theory. Jonathan Grant, director of climate change at the consulting firm PwC UK, said a “carbon price” of $40 per ton would be needed to reach that “2C” goal of which Hansen spoke.
Backing Hansen’s concern about the inadequacy of the Paris treaty, John Schwartz in the New York Times noted a report by the International Energy Agency which “warned that the nearly 200-nation deal was too weak to meet its vowed temperature target. . . . the report’s authors estimated [that] meeting the national commitments to reduce carbon dioxide emissions would still allow temperatures to rise 2.7 degrees Celsius by 2100.”
Weirdly, some argue that the fact that the Paris treaty is ineffective is a reason for President Trump to go along with it. “Since Paris doesn’t commit people to do much of anything anyway, it would be stupid beyond belief for him to withdraw, and there wouldn’t be much reason for people to try and save it,” said Dale Jamieson, a professor of environmental studies and philosophy at New York University.
Given the efforts by President Obama and the Chinese to “Trump-proof” the Paris treaty, can Trump get the U.S. out of it? As noted above, proponents of the Paris treaty designed it specifically so that, once it took effect, no U.S. president could get out of the treaty for four years, the length of an entire presidential term.
Actually, there are several paths to extricate the country.
One, President Trump could simply ignore the unratified treaty. But that would give treaty supporters an opportunity to make the legal case that ratification isn’t needed or that, as an outgrowth of the 1992 Rio treaty, the Paris treaty has already been ratified—nonsense arguments, but ones that would find favor among environmentalist activists, bureaucrats, and many judges.
Two, President Trump could submit the Paris treaty to the U.S. Senate for a vote. All or almost all of the 52 Republicans in the Senate would vote against it, and some vulnerable Democrats would probably join them. (In the 2018 Senate races, eight currently Republican seats are at risk, compared to 25 currently Democrat seats, and 10 of those Democrat seats are in states carried in 2016 by Trump. In 2016, Republicans won every Senate race conducted in a state that Trump won.) Submitted to the Senate, the treaty wouldn’t win a simple majority, much less the two-thirds majority needed for approval.
Three, President Trump could initiate the process for withdrawing from the Paris treaty, although that would take four years.
Four, as outlined by two Heritage Foundation scholars—Steven Groves, a member of the Trump transition “landing team” for the State Department, and Nicolas Loris—the new president could withdraw, in one year, from the underlying Rio treaty.
In 1992, United Nations member states attended the Conference on Environment and Development. More commonly known as the Rio Earth Summit, the meeting led to the signing of the framework convention. . . . Article 25 of the framework convention says that any party can withdraw from the convention three years after the framework has entered into force by submitting a written notice to the depositary. The depositary is the secretary-general of the United Nations.
Doing this would withdraw the U.S. from any protocol to which it is a party (including Paris) and would enter into force one year after the depositary receives the notification of withdrawal. In this manner, the U.S. could be out of both the Paris Agreement and the framework convention as early as Jan. 20, 2018.
Avaneesh Pandey of International Business Times, in a November 9, 2016 article, described three ways President Trump could exit Paris, along the same lines as the options described above.
The first and the most aggressive option would be to withdraw the U.S. from the 1992 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change—the international treaty under whose framework the Paris accord was negotiated. Under Article 25 of the treaty, any country can, one year after notification, withdraw from the convention. And, if it does so, it “shall be considered as also having withdrawn from any protocol to which it is a Party”—which, in this case, would be the Paris climate accord.
Trump can do this—even though it is likely to provoke fierce international condemnation from governments and climate activists—without congressional approval.
The second option is to withdraw from the Paris accord itself. Under the terms of the deal, however, this can only be done three years after a country formally joins the agreement. Again, this can be done without consulting the Senate.
The third, and perhaps the most likely alternative, would be to abandon the emissions reduction commitments the U.S. has made without formally withdrawing from the accord. This is anyway likely to happen if Trump lives up to his campaign promise of scrapping the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan, expanding offshore drilling, getting rid of the EPA entirely, increasing natural gas production, and ending what he has termed “wasteful” federal spending on climate change.
A new world order
Sometimes, supporters of deals like the Paris climate treaty give us a peek behind the curtain—an insight into the real purposes of such deals and the motives of many of the people behind them. What they really want is expensive energy, and the restructuring of the world economic system that would result from expensive energy.
Take the concept of cap-and-trade. The Paris treaty is supposed to encourage countries to impose systems that would limit artificial emissions of carbon dioxide—whether through a “carbon tax,” which would be ratcheted up over time, or a cap-and-trade system, under which permits for carbon dioxide emissions are bought and sold, with the total allowance gradually ratcheted down. Even though the Paris treaty isn’t enforceable, it would give ruling elites an excuse to impose such measures under the pretext that Paris made them do it.
Limits on carbon dioxide are expensive. During the 2008 campaign, Barack Obama told the San Francisco Chronicle that under his cap-and-trade plan, “If somebody wants to build a coal-fired power plant, they can. It’s just that it will bankrupt them.” He added, “Under my plan electricity rates would necessarily skyrocket.”
Upon becoming president, Mr. Obama would recruit to his administration others who shared his desire for expensive energy. Physicist/activist Steven Chu talked in September 2008 about the need to figure out “how to boost the price of gasoline to the levels in Europe.” The European price of gas at that time was roughly $8 a gallon. After Obama’s election, Chu became the U.S. secretary of energy.
Van Jones, the Obama administration’s first “green jobs czar” and now a CNN commentator, was one of those who saw the energy agenda as a means for radical societal transformation. He declared in February 2009, “We want to move from suicidal gray capitalism to something eco-capitalism [sic] where at least we’re not fast-tracking the destruction of the whole planet. Will that be enough? No, it won’t be enough. We want to go beyond the systems of exploitation and oppression altogether . . . [T]he green economy will start off as a small subset, and we are going to push it and push it and push it until it becomes the engine for transforming the whole society.”
David Foster, the director of the union/environmentalist group known as the Blue-Green Alliance, described the Obama administration’s cap-and-trade plan as “an economic restructuring bill for the global economy. We should not pretend that it isn’t.”
When leaders of the movement underlying the Paris treaty see Global Warming as an opportunity for fundamental transformation, their thinking reflects that of Rahm Emanuel, former Obama chief of staff and now mayor of Chicago, when he said famously, “You never let a serious crisis go to waste.”
Margot Wallstrom, who was the environmental minister of the European Union, said that the Kyoto protocol, the predecessor to the Paris treaty, was “about [the] economy, about leveling the playing field for big businesses worldwide.” Jacques Chirac, when he was president of France, called Kyoto “the first component of an authentic global governance.” During a visit to Japan to discuss Global Warming, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said, “The question is . . . what kind of measure do we use to create a just world?”
Christiana Figueres, then the executive secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, declared at a press conference in 2015: “This is probably the most difficult task we have ever given ourselves, which is to intentionally transform the economic development model, for the first time in human history.”
Figueres, whose father and brother, both socialists, were presidents of Costa Rica, added, “This is the first time in the history of mankind that we are setting ourselves the task of intentionally, within a defined period of time, [attempting] to change the economic development model that has been reigning for at least 150 years, since the Industrial Revolution.” Referring to the COP (Conference of Parties) series of international meetings on climate change, she said the completion of this task “will not happen overnight and it will not happen at a single conference on climate change, be it COP 15, 21, 40, you choose the number. It just does not occur like that. It is a process, because of the depth of the transformation.”
It should not come as a surprise that the Left is using the Global Warming issue to transform the world. Senator Al Gore made that prospect clear during an appearance on ABC News just prior to the Earth Summit in Rio in 1992, which set up the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (which led, in turn, to the Paris treaty). Said Gore: “The task of saving the earth’s environment is going to become the central organizing principle in the post-Cold War world.”
Carbon dioxide is an odorless, invisible gas, harmless to humans at many times the normal levels. It makes up 1/2500th of the earth’s atmosphere. It is critical to the existence of complex life on earth. The breath exhaled by humans has 100 times as much carbon dioxide as the surrounding air. Since the Little Ice Age ended about 160-200 years ago, the increase in carbon dioxide, relative to the atmosphere as a whole, is the rough equivalent of adding a tablespoon of water into a 35-gallon bathtub.
To members of the political movement underlying the Paris treaty, the supposed threat of carbon dioxide is the excuse they needed to restrict all sorts of human endeavors. Fred Singer, professor emeritus of environmental sciences at the University of Virginia, said, “Control of CO2[carbon dioxide] means, essentially, control of energy, and that means control of economies.” MIT atmospheric physicist Richard Lindzen noted that “Controlling carbon is a bureaucrat’s dream. If you control carbon, you control life.”
Clowns to the left of me
This is what passes for logic in the so-called international community: the idea that the world’s governments—including dictatorships that run slave-labor camps, subjugate women and religious minorities, and torture and execute homosexuals and members of disfavored ethnic groups—will cut off their countries’ access to affordable energy and modern technology and otherwise impoverish their people, out of a reluctance to be “named and shamed” over carbon dioxide emissions. Seriously.
Not since the Kellogg-Briand Pact of 1928 has a treaty so exposed the buffoonery that’s endemic among diplomats and their political patrons. Kellogg-Briand, signed in Paris, outlawed war. Its ban on war was followed in short order by the Japanese invasion of Manchuria, the Italian invasion of Abyssinia (Ethiopia), the Spanish Civil War, the Japanese invasion of China, and the German/Russian invasion of Poland that started World War II.
Racing against the clock—trying to lock down a deal before the American people could have their say in the 2016 election—the Obama administration, the Chinese Communists, and gaggles of dictators and kleptocrats pursuing the get-rich-quick scheme of carbon reparations, joined hands with the cartoonish bureaucrats of the United Nations and the European Union. Together, they delivered unto the world the Paris Climate Treaty, which is a joke.
We’ll see who has the last laugh.
Dr. Steven J. Allen (J.D., Ph.D.) is vice president & chief investigative officer of the Capital Research Center.
He previously served as press secretary to U.S. Senator Jeremiah Denton, as vice president of the technology think tank The Progress & Freedom Foundation, as editor of Tea Party Review magazine, and as senior researcher for Newt Gingrich for President 2012. He has a master’s degree in political science from Jacksonville State University, a J.D. (law degree) from Cumberland Law School, and a Ph.D. in Biodefense from the College of Science at George Mason University.