Energy & Environment

GOP rebuffs Obama’s climate plans as UN conference starts

Greg Nash

Senior congressional Republicans attacked President Obama’s climate agenda over the weekend before he left for a major climate summit in Paris. 

In a pair of op-eds, Republican leaders repeated long-standing arguments against the U.S.’s involvement in an international climate deal, warning that such an accord wouldn’t pass muster in Congress and saying that Obama is ignoring the energy reality at home. 

{mosads}“The president’s international negotiating partners at that conference should proceed with caution before entering into an unattainable deal with this administration, because commitments the president makes there would rest on a house of cards of his own making,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) wrote in a Friday op-ed in The Washington Post. 

Republicans have worked to undercut Obama’s negotiating position on climate, with senators pushing resolutions calling for a vote on a final deal and lawmakers threatening to withhold U.S. funding for a key international climate fund.

They’ve also pushed back against Obama’s domestic climate agenda, which makes up the bulk of the pledges the president is bringing to the table in Paris. 

The House will vote this week on resolutions undoing Obama’s landmark carbon emissions standards for power plants, rules that dozens of states have sued against. While Obama is certain to veto the resolutions, the GOP hopes the move will show the world their opposition to his proposals and demonstrate that U.S. climate commitments aren’t permanent.

“Congress and more than half of the states have already made clear that he won’t be speaking for us,” McConnell wrote. “The courts will also continue working to determine if this power plan is legal.”

Republicans have slammed Obama for pushing federal climate regulations, arguing that the American energy sector is already driving down carbon emissions. 

In a Sunday op-ed in Reuters, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said Obama “ignores” declining emissions from the power sector, which McCarthy attributed to increasing reliance on natural gas. 

“The conclusion the president should draw from this and bring to the table with the international community is clear: only by embracing the free market can we improve the world’s environmental outlook while also strengthening our economies,” McCarthy wrote. “And this is exactly the vision the Republican-led Congress intends to project to the world.”

Obama has powered forward with his climate platform despite Republican opposition. In a Monday speech to leaders in Paris, he noted his power plant rules and his rejection to the Keystone XL pipeline and called them symbols of the U.S.’s commitment to fighting climate change. 

“I’ve come here personally, as the leader of the world’s largest economy and the second-largest emitter, to say that the United States of America not only recognizes our role in creating this problem, we embrace our responsibility to do something about it,” he said.

Tags Barack Obama Clean Power Plan Climate change Kevin McCarthy Mitch McConnell Paris climate talks
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