By Chris White
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her Democratic colleagues are pushing a new climate bill that could effectively reshape the entire Paris accord and legally bind the Trump administration to the deal.
Pelosi’s Climate Action Now Act, announced Wednesday to media fanfare, aims to prevent President Donald Trump from removing the U.S. from the 2016 accord. The deal, which compels the country to cut greenhouse gas emissions 26 to 28 percent by 2025, is a non-binding agreement made after former President Barack Obama was unable to get the required votes in Congress to make it a treaty.
If the California Democrat wants to legally force Trump to abide by the deal, then she needs to go through the complicated legal process to make the deal a treaty rather than a non-binding deal, Competitive Enterprise Institute senior fellow Chris Horner told The Daily Caller News Foundation Thursday.
“The bill asserts that Paris is presently binding on the U.S., would bind us to its terms if we remain signatories, and seeks to ensure that Pres. Trump cannot consummate his promise to withdraw by his announced pathway before they have a chance to retake the White House and lock us in,” he said via email.
Horner added: “Or, if you want legislative involvement suddenly, it’s a treaty, as it obviously is, and transmit it to the Senate for a ratification vote. If Speaker Pelosi wants to formalize matters, let’s do it the way the rest of the world did particularly our European models — by submitting it to our elected representatives for a vote, as a treaty, pursuant to our governing constitution.”
Pelosi’s bill is a watered-down version of New York Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s Green New Deal, which called for a near complete shift away from fossil fuels and toward green energy. The GND was torpedoed in the Senate Tuesday after Republicans voted against the resolution while Democrats voted present.
European officials heavily criticized Trump for deciding to leave the Paris accord shortly after taking office. Democratic governors and wealthy environmental groups created the Global Climate Action Summit in September 2018, bringing together activists to promote the goals of the Paris climate accord.
The new bill could hit some speed bumps, especially if it attempts to bind Trump to the dying deal. Obama joined the Paris accord after years of working behind the scenes to craft what would become a non-binding deal, but he did so without submitting it to the Senate. His signature achievement was ultimately dashed after former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton lost to Trump.
Tethering the president and the country to Paris could affect the other participants in the deal.
China, one of the more than 200 other countries that signed on to the deal, is the world’s largest greenhouse gas emitter, and made no commitment to cut greenhouse emissions. Instead, the communist nation said it would “peak” emissions and the amount it emits per unit of gross domestic product (GDP) by 2030. China is also not legally obligated to comply with the accord.
China has taken steps in recent years to close down coal mines and shut down coal-fired power plants, but those measures are largely designed to solve the country’s poor air quality. Beijing also recently became the first Chinese city to replace all its coal power with natural gas.
Pelosi’s office has not yet responded to TheDCNF’s request for comment about whether the California Democrat is seeking to make the accord a treaty.
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