14 Dec '15     home | previous

Paris Accord and Climate Change

On PBS News Hour Weekend, Hari Sreenivasan asks Michael Levi what the Paris summit accord on climate change means for the United States. Levi is a senior fellow for energy and the environment at the Council on Foreign Relations.


For the United States, this means that we are done with 20 years of fighting over the basic architecture of an international agreement, and if we flesh this out right, we will have a framework where we can have more insight into what other countries are doing, a regular process for pressing them to do more, and some greater certainty about the international structure that we are working within.

None of the countries is obliged to follow the accord. As Levi says:

Ultimately, all of these steps are voluntary. We saw in the Kyoto protocol that we had mandatory requirements, legally binding requirements that countries didn't adhere to anyhow.

Had it not been voluntary the agreement, according to Levi, would have died in the US Senate, which would not have ratified it. Levi writes,

So, better to have an agreement that is not absolutely perfect, but that exists, than one that you love, but can never fly.

At Paris, the United States has pledged by 2025 to reduce its emissions by 26 to 28 percent below its 2005 levels.

President Obama has praised the accord, saying it could be "a turning point for the world." Someone else says it didn't save the planet, but it may have saved the chance of saving the planet.

Over at Breitbart News, Joel B Pollak skips over the voluntary nature of the accord and complains:

The UN climate change deal reached last week between nearly 200 countries is a direct attack on U.S. sovereignty. It was crafted explicitly to evade the U.S. Constitution's requirement that treaties must be ratified by a two-thirds majority of the Senate to take effect.

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