Obama’s China Deal on Climate Change

President Obama in Beijing declared new targets for reducing U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, this time with China ostensibly agreeing to cut its own greenhouse gas emissions. CEI energy policy experts Myron Ebell and Chris Horner criticized this move as the latest political maneuver in the war on coal (see statements below).

Myron Ebell, director of Center for Energy and Environment:

“It is not clear what President Xi’s commitment means, but President Obama’s signature on the deal has no legal force. And it will be up to future Presidents and Congresses after he leaves office in January 2017 to decide whether to require the emissions reductions agreed to.

“Republicans take control of the Senate in January and majorities in both the House and Senate will be opposed to the Obama Administration’s climate agenda. It seems certain that they will be even more opposed to the new 26% cut by 2025 goal than they are to the 17% by 2020 goal. My guess is that there will be votes on a resolution disavowing President Obama’s new commitments in both the House and Senate early in the 114th Congress. In fact, if the House and Senate do disavow the deal with China, it would be a major international embarrassment to President Obama and would be a severe blow to the chances for a significant agreement in Paris in December 2015.”
> Read the full commentary on Globalwarming.org

Chris Horner, senior fellow and attorney:

“This deal is the latest move by the president to circumvent congressional approval, in this case by using a ‘politically binding’ promise to others that he hopes make his EPA's rules untouchable here at home.

“The intention here is to effectively embed his proposed and highly vulnerable EPA rules through soft commitments like this (and the Paris agreement next year repeating it), despite not being legally binding. Under what is known as customary international law, countries are obligated to keep promises that are repeated so often or so well understood, or at minimum not violate their ‘object and purpose’.

"However, for President Obama to meaningfully promise to China, or anyone else, that the US will curb our carbon emissions requires Senate ‘advice and consent’ — ratification under the Constitution. This move is instead a clear attempt to pressure U.S. lawmakers, courts or the next president's EPA to leave Obama's greenhouse gas rules alone. He seeks to use promises to others to seal the deal on his domestic war on coal. The Senate should vote in January to instruct the world, our courts and anyone else who is interested that this represents no more than legally meaningless freelancing.”