The UN COP 21 meeting opens in Paris in about ten days. Very little “progress” towards a new worldwide agreement on carbon dioxide (CO2) emission reductions appears to have been made at numerous preparatory meetings for it. Two issues are likely to be particularly troublesome. One is whether an agreement should be legally binding. The other is whether the agreement should mandate large payments from the developed countries (DCs) to the less developed countries (LDCs), as originally proposed by President Obama and then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at the failed COP 15 in Copenhagen in 2009.
Will the Proposed Agreement Be a Treaty?
The Obama Administration wants an agreement that is not legally binding so as to better argue that they need not submit it for Senate ratification as required by the Constitution. They know that no such ratification is possible given the current makeup of the Senate. Other countries, particularly some of those in the European Union, want it to be legally binding, possibly in part because the current EU proposal on climate is contingent on an enforceable agreement.
Will the Agreement Mandate Large Payments to the LDCs?
Equally problematic is the LDC funding issue. Many LDCs are balking at signing onto an agreement unless the developed countries provide substantial funding to the LDCs through the UN. In the US case this is a major problem, and it is also probably for many other DCs. In the US case it requires a specific Congressional appropriation since it is a new spending category and would not be covered by a continuing resolution which Congress is apparently going to use to fund the US Government in Fiscal Year 2016. Congress appears unlikely to fund such a new appropriation, which could lead to a breakdown of the 2016 appropriation process if the Administration pursues its efforts to try to force Congress to fund something that it does not want to fund for this purpose.
These and other issues will be playing out in Paris against the background of the ISIS massacre of some 130 people there last week. As noted last week a number of prominent Democrats nevertheless claim that “fighting” climate change is the most important national security issue we face despite the evidence provided by the worst loss of life in France due to hostilities since World War II.
My expectation is that there will be a last minute “agreement” that attempts to hide these and other still unresolved problems. The climate alarmists will attempt to portray this as a victory, despite the probable absence of a meaningful, enforceable agreement that would oblige every nation to make a significant contribution towards CO2 emission reductions. If so, this will highlight one of the important reasons that meaningful, worldwide CO2 reductions are a fantasy, as described in my book, Environmentalism Gone Mad.