Energy & Environment

White House dismisses ‘tired’ GOP arguments against climate pact

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The White House is dismissing the arguments of congressional Republicans who are trying to derail talks on an international climate change agreement.

The day after Republicans used a Senate hearing to assail the negotiations over the pact, the White House said the arguments are getting old.

{mosads}“It is notable that the principal argument against taking domestic action against climate change is that if we act and the rest of the world doesn’t act then we somehow put our economy at a disadvantage,” a senior administration official told reporters.

“Well, now, we’ve acted, and the opposite is true. Our actions and our leadership have helped encourage other countries like China to step up and make more ambitious commitments, including … China committing to a national cap and trade system in the United States,” the official continued.

“At some point, these arguments just get tired.”

The comments from the White House come weeks before world leaders meet in Paris to hammer out a final deal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and fight climate change.

The administration has made it clear that it’s pushing for a deal that does not make individual countries’ emissions reduction targets legally binding, which would exempt it from Senate ratification as a treaty.

Although Republicans are trying to sink the deal, the White House said the United States commitment — a 26 percent to 28 percent emissions cut by 2025 under 2005 levels — is based solely on existing regulations and other actions for which Obama has authority under the law.

“So we don’t need, nor are we requesting, new legal authority to get to the pledge that we’ve made,” the aide said.

Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) chaired a Senate Foreign Relations subcommittee hearing Tuesday to try to show that the United States’s commitments would need Senate ratification. He also argued the proposed targets are not possible and would ruin the economy. 

“Just like the Kyoto Protocol and the United Nations framework convention on climate change, any agreement that commits our nation to targets or timetables must go through the process established by the founders in our Constitution. It must be submitted to the United States Senate for its advice and consent,” Barrasso told Todd Stern, the State Department’s envoy to the negotiations.

The administration official said that Barrasso’s role as the sole Republican at that hearing shows how little the party cares about trying to stop Obama.

“I would note that the attendance yesterday at Todd’s hearing didn’t necessarily reflect a degree of passion and commitment,” he said. “There was one Republican that showed up, and he was the chair of the subcommittee.”

Tags Climate change John Barrasso Paris climate talks

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