Senate EPW White Paper: Essential Background on the Obama Administration’s Climate Treaty Agenda

A new white paper from the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee is the first comprehensive report by Congress on international climate negotiations, encompassing the United Nations Framework Convention, Kyoto, Bali, Copenhagen, Durban, and more. It is intended to inject a dose of reality into the Obama administration’s puffery on the current negotiations in Paris—officially the 21st Conference of the Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP 21).

The White Paper expects the Paris COP meeting to fail for several reasons:

  1. The EPA power plant rules that underpin the U.S. emission reduction pledge are unlawful;
  2. The deal on offer commits the United States to reduce emissions by 26 to 28 percent and pay billions in climate aid to developing countries, but does not commit those countries to reduce emissions in return;
  3. The President has no power to unilaterally make foreign aid commitments;
  4. Congress opposes any agreement that Obama refuses to submit to a ratification vote; and
  5. The Senate will almost certainly reject any climate pact that is submitted for its advice and consent.

In short, the White Paper puts the international community on notice that Obama’s negotiating position is a greenhouse of cards. It details different options being debated in Paris, and examines how each scenario plays out. It concludes the treaty will be reduced to a political promise that won’t withstand test of time. It’s another example of the President’s modus operandi: Bypass Congress and see how much he can get away with.

The Report condenses a lot of oversight work and research allied organizations have done this year. It also reviews legislative efforts to overturn the EPA’s power plant rules and thwart the President’s attempt to buy developing-country support for the treaty via foreign aid promises Congress has not approved.

If you read only one paper on the COP 21 negotiations, read this one!