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Todd Stern Reassures Europeans That Republicans Won’t Undo Paris Commitments

Todd Stern, the U. S. State Department’s special envoy for climate change negotiations, said in London on 18th February, that if the next President repudiates the Paris Climate Treaty the international “blowback” would be much stronger than the negative reaction after President George W. Bush announced in 2001 that he would not submit the Kyoto Protocol to the Senate for ratification. 

The BBC quoted Stern: “There was a lot of blowback that the US got generally diplomatically across the range of diplomatic concerns and I have no doubt that it would be very significant if the US were to do that with regard to Paris, probably much, much more significant than what happened before.”

Stern made the remarks to reporters as part of a three-day “reassurance tour” to Brussels, London, and Paris intended to counteract the Supreme Court’s decision to stay the EPA’s greenhouse gas rule for existing power plants and to downplay the chances that a Republican President will walk away from the Paris treaty.

Stern expressed qualified confidence that the EPA’s power plant rules would survive legal challenge, but that if they did not, there was no need to worry because the administration would adopt other measures to meet the U. S. commitment under Paris to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 26 to 28% below 2005 levels by 2025.

Again according to the BBC, Stern said: “We anticipate that the Clean Power Plan will be upheld.  But if for whatever reason it is not, then we will have to use other means to get to our target, but we are not backing off our target.”

President Barack Obama made Stern’s task a little more difficult when he said recently that all the Republican presidential candidates “are denying climate change.”  In fact, at least two candidates have already explicitly rejected the Paris treaty.  Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) announced in October that if elected he would submit the Paris treaty to the Senate for its advice and consent.  Senator Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) said soon after the Paris negotiations ended on 12th December that if elected he would withdraw the United States from the treaty. 

The BBC story went on to report that, “Mr Stern said that the US would sign in April and join the [Paris] agreement this year.”  How the Obama Administration can join the Paris Climate Treaty without Senate ratification is a mystery that was made more obvious this week when the government of Fiji announced that they had ratified it.  My CEI colleague Chris Horner was quoted in a story by Michael Bastasch in the Daily Caller on the curious fact that government of Fiji (and probably every other country in the world except for the current U. S. administration) understands that the Paris Climate Treaty is a treaty and thereby requires ratification.