Saturday, May 7, 2016

Climate Change Agreement Hooey

Sorry to sound cynical about the climate-change agreement that was hammered out in December and signed by 175 countries on Earth Day, but I don't think anything is going to change any time soon or later . . . except, of course, the climate.
While China and India, the world's two most populous countries, have pledged to limit carbon dioxide emissions - China plans to cap its emissions by 2030 or sooner - the United States must still show good faith in implementing constructive steps to fight climate change.  The agreement doesn't require Senate ratification, ironically, because this country is not bound to any new commitments that it does not already perform under a 1992 climate-change treaty.  It's an executive agreement that only requires a representative of the executive branch to file an "instrument of acceptance" with the United Natons Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.
So what's the problem?  Well, two things could derail that:

  • Donald Trump - now the Republican presidential nominee-in-waiting after John Kasich withdrew - would likely squelch it if elected President.
  • The U.S. Supreme Court could invalidate the Environmental Protection Agency's Clean Power Plan.

To be honest, both of these things are more likely to happen than, say, Chris Matthews keeping sexist comments to himself.
On those rare occasions when the United States leads on an international quality-of-life issue, it has to drag its own citizens kicking and screaming into going along with doing something about the problem, which is exploited by cynical politicians opposing any initiative on the matter.  In the case of climate change, President Obama is trying to get Americans to take climate change seriously enough to make changes in the way we live.  Republicans against doing anything about climate change will likely exploit the hostile mood of the citizenry and get them to vote in the opposition, which will then forfeit American leadership.  After all, Republicans got George Walker Bush elected President, then Bush got the U.S. out of the Kyoto Protocol in 2001.  And it's not just climate change.  How about 1919 and the Treaty of Versailles, which President Wilson advocated ratification of to officially end World War I so the U.S. could join the League of Nations?  Republicans against joining the League responded by riling up the citizenry, warning of the dangers of American intervention in European affairs (at a time when European nations could have used an honest broker to make the League work and keep the peace), and getting the voters to elect anti-League Senator Warren Harding as the next President!  
So, no, I don't expect this climate-change agreement to work.  Because it all depends on the United States, and we Americans haven't been too dependable lately. 

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