Senators push resolution against UN climate talks

Lauren Schneiderman

Three senators on Thursday introduced a nonbinding resolution expressing their opposition to the United Nations climate talks in Paris.

The resolution, from Sens. James Inhofe (R-Okla), Roy BluntRoy BluntClinton releases plan for military families GOP senators split over Cruz's aid on campaign trail Senators hope for deal soon on mental health bill MORE (R-Mo.) and Joe ManchinJoe ManchinHonoring our heroes and helping our country Senators to Obama: Make 'timely' call on Afghan troops levels Dem senator: Sanders ‘doesn’t have a lot of answers’ MORE (D-W.Va.), says the United States should not comply with any U.N.-brokered climate deal unless senators get the chance to sign off on it first. 

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“The international community needs to be aware that the U.S. Congress and the American people do not support President Obama’s international climate agenda,” Inhofe, the chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, said in statement.

“I would urge caution in considering any diplomatic promises that may suggest otherwise as the president is once again attempting to make international promises he cannot deliver.” 

Republicans and opponents of the climate negotiations have long said Congress should have a say, though Obama administration officials insist the GOP-controlled Congress won’t need to ratify the climate deal because it won’t be a formal treaty.

The question of potential congressional approval came up again this month when European officials insisted the climate deal would be legally binding, despite claims from Secretary of State John Kerry that it won't be a formal treaty.

Outside supporters of a climate accord said the matter was mostly a difference of semantics. But opponents of the negotiations have used the spat as ammunition against the deal. 

The resolution says the Senate believes any climate deal reached in Paris will have “no force or effect” in the U.S. unless lawmakers consider it first. The resolution also looks to block U.S. funding for an international financing program to address climate change unless the Senate takes up the deal.

Members introduced the resolution less than two weeks before the Paris climate talks are slated to begin on Nov. 30. 

The U.S. has pledged to cut its carbon emissions by 26 to 28 percent by 2025 as part of a broad, international deal to limit greenhouse gasses and begin taking on climate change.

Obama, who has made climate change a top priority in his second term, will attend the first two days of the conference, bringing his carbon reduction pledge and a slate of new environmental regulations with him as proof of the American commitment to a climate deal.

Republicans and red-state Democrats have long looked to block those actions.

“The U.S. Senate must be able to exercise its constitutional role to approve any agreement that emerges from the Paris climate talks,” Manchin said in a statement.  

“This administration should not be able to unilaterally put American businesses at a disadvantage in the global economy by enacting unattainable and unproven mandates. The Senate must approve those agreements before they are enforced upon our people.”