Oklahoma Republican Sen. Jim Inhofe criticized President Barack Obama Thursday for joining an international global warming treaty without Senate approval.
The Senate committee chair also warned Obama his global warming ambitions were bound to fail since he needs legislative approval to make the emissions cuts he’s promised the United Nations.
“History already shows that this Paris Agreement will fail,” Inhofe said in an emailed statement.
“This latest announcement is the president attempting to once again give the international community the appearance that he can go around Congress in order to achieve his unpopular and widely rejected climate agenda for his legacy,” he said.
Obama plans on officially joining the UN’s global warming treaty when he visits China for the G20 summit. China also plans on ratifying the treaty in an effort to bring it into for this year — a major goal of environmental activists.
Nearly 200 countries signed onto the treaty, which diplomats hashed out last year in Paris, that asks for non-binding cuts to greenhouse gas emissions. For the treaty to go into effect, 55 countries representing 55 percent of global emissions must ratify it, but so far only 23 countries representing 1 percent of global emissions have done so.
Obama hopes U.S. and Chinese ratification will encourage others to do so, but Inhofe and others have lambasted the president for circumventing Congress to approve the Paris treaty.
“The Senate does not support the Paris Agreement, which is why his administration prefers to not call it a treaty,” Inhofe said, “and the centerpiece of the president’s emission reduction commitments, the Clean Power Plan, is on shaky legal ground, which the United States Supreme Court recently affirmed.”
The White House has shied away from calling it a “treaty” and, instead, refer to it as an “executive agreement.” Obama senior adviser Brian Deese told reporters it’s “a process that is quite well-established in our existing legal system and in the context of international agreements and international arrangements.”
“There is a category of them that are treaties that require advice and consent from the Senate, but there’s a broad category of executive agreements where the executive can enter into those agreements without that advice and consent,” Deese said.
The U.S. Constitution requires treaties to be approved by two-thirds of the Senate, and Obama’s climate treaty is destined for failure in a Republican-controlled Senate. Inhofe and others have vowed to block the treaty if it ever did come before the Senate.
Obama’s got another problem, according to Inhofe. The president needs to pass legislation to get the 28 percent emissions cuts he promised the UN.
“Furthermore, environmental groups and industry agree that the U.S. commitments made under the Paris Agreement cannot be met with regulations and would require legislation from Congress that will never pass,” Inhofe said.
Chip Knappenberger, a climate scientist at the libertarian Cato Institute, has argued Obama should pull out of the Paris treaty because he won’t be able to deliver on his promises.
For starters, the Supreme Court delayed Obama’s key global warming rule. Second, regulators have been underestimated methane emissions, which means more there’s greenhouse gases than previously thought.
“All of this —the stayed Clean Power Plan, growing methane emissions, and overly optimistic projections—undermine the viability of Obama’s pledge,” Knappenberger wrote in Newsweek in April.
“Add to the mix energy efficiency measures which don’t work as well as advertised, low gas prices and a growing economy that is still tightly linked to fossil fuels, and you arrive at the unimpeachable conclusion that we are not going to come close to meeting the emissions pledges made by the president,” he wrote.
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