In today’s E&E TV interview with Monica Trauzzi (http://www.eenews.net/tv/), UNFCCC Executive Secretary Yvo de Boer did not balk at Trauzzi’s statement that, “Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has indicated that the Senate may not see floor action on climate until next year.” Nor did he bat an eye when she said that the Obama administration seems to have “shifted to using the Clean Air Act to regulate emissions.” Like many observers, de Boer appears to have low expectations for the Waxman-Markey bill, at least for this year.
Nonetheless, de Boer spoke as if he expected President Obama to accomplish great things at Copenhagen climate conference in December: “From an international point of view, from the point of view of U.N. negotiations it’s not essential that this legislation be finalized, but that statement of political intent from the president — that’s the thing that really counts in the international arena.”
Oh really — like President Bill Clinton’s statement of political intent when he signed the Kyoto Protocol in November 1998? Clinton’s signature proved to be worth little from “the point of view of U.N. negotiations,” because Clinton dared not submit the treaty to the U.S. Senate for a debate and vote on ratification.
The House passed Waxman-Markey by a razor thin (219-212) margin. In the Senate, proponents will need to find a three-fifths (60-vote) super-majority to defeat a GOP filibuster. To ratify Kyoto II, Obama would need to assemble a two-thirds super-majority. In the Copenhagen round, the EU is pushing for tougher emission reduction targets than those in Waxman-Markey.
If President Obama, Sen. Reid, and Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) prove unable to assemble 60 votes to pass Waxman-Markey in the Senate, what are the odds that they could line up 67 votes to ratify Kyoto II?
Mr. de Boer is mistaken. The fate of Waxman-Markey largely foreshadows and determines the fate of Kyoto II.