UN Paris Agreement Is a Real Tiger: Lock and Load – ‘A device for mobilizing political pressure against opponents of Obama’s climate policies’

Paris Agreement Is a Real Tiger: Lock and Load



Post image for Paris Agreement Is a Real Tiger: Lock and LoadSummary: The Paris climate agreement is “non-binding, underfunded, and unenforceable,” as one conservative commentator put it. However, Paris is a “paper tiger” only on paper. The treaty’s core purpose is not to impose legal obligations but to establish the multi-decade framework for a global political pressure campaign. The pressure will be directed chiefly at those who oppose EPA’s unlawful Clean Power Plan and other elements of the President’s climate agenda. Republicans will get rolled unless GOP leaders organize a political counter-offensive centered around a Byrd-Hagel 2.0 resolution. Key message point: Contrary to President Obama, the Paris agreement is a treaty, hence it is not a policy of the United States until the Senate ratifies it.Dismissing the Paris Climate Agreement as a paper tiger because America’s emission-reduction and foreign-aid commitments are not “legally binding” is whistling past the graveyard. The Paris agreement is first and foremost a device for mobilizing political pressure against U.S. opponents of President Obama’s climate policies. Those would be Republicans and their fossil-fuel industry allies.

At the 21st Conference of the Parties (COP21) meeting in Paris, President Obama wanted, and got, an agreement in which each nation’s core commitments are “politically binding.” Those who laugh about the phrase being an oxymoron, because politicians break their promises all the time, miss the point. What chiefly determines climate policy is not science or law but politics.

The Paris agreement is “politically” rather than “legally” binding in two ways. First, each country’s core commitments are self-chosen (“nationally determined”) rather than specified by the agreement itself. Second, commitments are to be enforced via political pressure (“naming and shaming”) rather than through international tribunals or economic sanctions.

Obama wanted a politically-binding agreement for two reasons. First, he gets to pretend the Paris agreement is not a treaty, hence does not have to be submitted to the Senate for its advice and consent. Even when Democrats were the majority party, there was no chance “two thirds of Senators present” (Article 2, Section 2, Clause 2) would vote to ratify new international climate commitments. If Obama acknowledges the Paris agreement is a treaty, then it is dead on arrival. So he claims it is not a treaty.

Second, an agreement in which each country promises to implement its own “nationally determined contribution”