White House: GOP criticism of climate pact 'hard to take seriously'

The White House on Tuesday rebuked Republican critics of its contribution to the United Nations climate pact, saying the criticisms are “hard to take seriously.”

Asked about congressional Republicans who want the Senate to have to approve an agreement, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said that politicians who are skeptical of the science surrounding climate change are not qualified to judge the matter.

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“These are individuals who — many of whom, at least, deny the fact that climate change even exists, so I'm not sure they would be in the best position to decide whether or not a climate-change agreement is one that is worth entering into,” Earnest told reporters Tuesday.

His comments were directed at lawmakers, such as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) and Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas), who have all insisted that the international agreement the U.N. is working on is a treaty and cannot be enforced without Senate approval.

Those lawmakers, along with most Republicans, also doubt the scientific consensus that human activity is significantly contributing to climate change.

The White House submitted its contributions to the pact Tuesday, promising a 26 percent to 28 percent reduction in greenhouse gases by 2025.

“I think it's hard to take seriously from some members of Congress who deny the fact that climate change exists, that they should have some opportunity to render judgment about climate-change agreement,” Earnest continued.

Earnest defended the U.N. submission as “evidence once again how President Obama and the United States is leading the world to confront the challenge of climate change” and would likely spur other major countries to follow suit.