Paris Climate Promise: A Bad Deal for America

While the executive branch must be permitted a certain amount of discretion to choose the legal form of international agreements it is negotiating, there must also be a corresponding duty by the executive branch to treat comprehensive, binding agreements that result in significant domestic impact as treaties requiring Senate approval.

President Obama has placed his desire to achieve an international environmental “win” and bolster his legacy above historical U.S. treaty practice and intragovernmental comity. Major environmental treaties that have significant domestic impacts should not be developed and approved by the President acting alone. An agreement with far-reaching domestic consequences like the Paris Agreement lacks sustainable democratic legitimacy unless the Senate or Congress as a whole, representing the will of the American people, gives its approval.

Unless and until the White House submits the Paris Agreement to the Senate for its advice and consent, the Senate should block funding for the Paris Agreement, withhold funding for the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), and take prophylactic legislative measures.

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