President Obama Goes around Senate on Climate Change

President Obama Goes around Senate on Climate Change

President Obama’s promise to China that the United States will cut CO2 emissions by at least 26% over the next decade is consistent with a legal strategy to use repetitive promises as the “politically binding” basis to force the U.S. domestic economy into legal compliance with a United Nations global warming treaty under international law.  

Obama knows that two-thirds of the Senate under the U.S. Constitution’s Article II, Section 2 is never going to approve the type of fossil fuel constraints required under the 1997 Kyoto Protocol or the proposed protocols for the United Nations’ climate change conference in Paris next year. In order to accomplish his goals, the President has shifted his Administration’s strategy by introducing a series of “soft” commitments, according to Christopher Horner, senior fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute.

Horner calls this strategy “name and shame.” By injecting a sense of momentum into the global climate negotiations, some nations will be intimidated into adopting the type of “ambitious actions” that are being drafted for the Paris conference by UN planners.

“Obama’s statement acknowledges that he cannot get a new climate treaty past China or U.S. voters,” Horner told But the numbers the President “promised” to China were already embedded into his Administration’s EPA rules to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions proposed in September. When these informal commitments are deemed to reach a certain level of recognition by other nations for “object and purpose,” they may become a legal basis for “customary international law.” 

Two years ago after public records requests from the Washington Times, a legal brief was unearthed from the New York Attorney General’s Office that laid out a “sue and settle” legal strategy to force the EPA to cut domestic greenhouse gas emissions based on international treaties. Once the suit was filed, it was expected that an empathetic EPA would be willing to sign a federal court settlement implementing Kyoto-type rules.

By memorializing a track record of U.S. officials promising radical reductions in domestic greenhouse gas emissions, President Obama is trying to pull an end run around the U.S. Senate to fully implement the Paris Protocol. Exempting China from any greenhouse reductions is meant as a distraction away from understanding the President is trying to implement a very sophisticated climate change strategy.  


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