by Chris Horner
E&E Legal Senior Legal Fellow

I met with some old friends and colleagues in Brussels in June, discussing the sorry state of “global warming” politics here and at home. “Climate” is an obsession in Europe, a continent whose leaders insist on hobbling the rest of the world with policies they’ve inflicted upon their own people and who are in too deep to walk the economically draining disaster back (which as E&E Legal has pointed out, carries terrible social costs).

One friend, Roger Helmer MEP, is hosting an event in the Parliament this November to illuminate the economic harms. Around the same time, the political harms from the upcoming December conference in Paris to agree to the successor to the Kyoto Protocol will be come into sharper focus in the U.S.

Events, as they now stand, appear likely to play out so regrettably that American policymakers need to begin planning in earnest their steps to neuter the scheme.

U.S. problems with Kyoto II/Paris are almost exclusively a domestic squabble right now, if not without international intrigue. French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius instructed the world to accept President Obama’s ruse of insisting the Paris agreement is not a treaty; otherwise,
as Fabius explained, it will go before the Senate and the dream of finally roping us into a global energy rationing scheme will die.

This shows that both have learned the lessons of Kyoto: claim it isn’t a treaty, beforehand; afterward, declare we’ve made promises to the world. This shows arrogant disregard for congressional concerns and facts such as that the treaty is largely aimed at Americans, and that our system does not allow us to breezily make promises without legal consequence.

Now, whether Obama (or the French) call Kyoto II a treaty is not the final word on that score — the Senate can say oh, yes it is. That is a conceivable outcome in the wake of Obama’s disastrous freelancing on Iran, even if unlikely for several reasons (none of which are substantive).
Nonetheless, we must now force the discussion about the cynical, inescapable intention behind this collaboration between Obama and our negotiating partners other countries to try and ensure our voters’ elected representatives do not play their constitutional role in a pact that, we all seem agreed, is doomed if brought before the Senate.

Other paths include presenting terms acceptable to the Senate, or agreeing to disagree. Instead, they are deliberately engineering a replay of the unpleasantness that followed the U.S. announcement that it would not in fact join the 1997 Kyoto Protocol.

Millennials will not recall the world as it was then, but from April 2001 until the September 11 attacks (and then again, after the shock wore off), a nastiness permeated every event requiring any international cooperation. Join to combat the terrorist threat? Well, first play our global warming game, and we will talk.

This began with then-advisor Condoleezza Rice asserting to European representatives that the Bush administration had no interest in Kyoto (rather than the more elegant: the new administration would continue the Clinton-Gore approach of not seeking ratification). The Europeans and their media allies and partners on the American Left flipped their collectiv(ist) lids.

Anti-Americanism was so bad that Canadian flag-pins sprouted among lapels of Americans traveling abroad. Many just found the day-to-day nastiness more than they wished to tolerate. More substantively, trying to find cooperation at the United Nations or elsewhere, President George W. Bush plainly was handcuffed by the issue and repercussions.

That this is being again scripted, knowingly, with Obama openly seeking to make things difficult for his successor, and his country, is shocking.

Yet this embodies the chicanery that is the “politically binding pact” of Paris, essentially invented for this purpose (a la “consensus” science), after it was clear that the U.S. treaty process meant any Kyoto-style agreement is a dead letter under our system. The plan became to avoid the Senate then, essentially, confront the next administration with the threat that it sure would be a shame if what happened to Bush happened to you…now, be a good boy and put the pen down and step away from that paper undoing this executive action by further executive action.

The question now is how to prevent a president from compromising U.S. interests as such. If Obama has no qualms about setting his country up as something of a pariah once he’s gone, for purely ideological objectives, others might still question the propriety of being part of orchestrating a replay of the post-Kyoto strife.

Mon amis, did you really like this century’s first decade? And, American Left: Didn’t Obama run promising to improve our standing in the world? (putting aside for the moment how that has worked out)

Obama’s move — insisting that an obvious Paris treaty isn’t a treaty, so as to avoid the Senate — aims to tie his own country’s hands after his term ends regarding something it has rejected at every turn.

The more people know about this unseemliness, the more we talk about it in advance, the less impact the “oh dear, but we promised the Europeans!” card will be, and the easier it will be for a successor to undo by executive act what was cynically put in place as a parting shot as an executive action.