The Guardian reports that President Obama has “ratified” the Paris Agreement:
The United States and China, the world’s biggest emitters of greenhouse gases, have announced they will formally ratify the Paris climate change agreement in a move campaigners immediately hailed as a significant advance in the battle against global warming.
Speaking on Saturday, on the eve of the G20 summit in Hangzhou, US president, Barack Obama, confirmed the long-awaited move, the result of weeks of intense negotiations by Chinese and American officials.
“Just as I believe the Paris agreement will ultimately prove to be a turning point for our planet, I believe that history will judge today’s efforts as pivotal,” said Obama, who was speaking in the presence of the Chinese president, Xi Jinping, and United Nations secretary general, Ban Ki-moon.
Article II, Section 2, Clause 2 of the U. S. Constitution requires that treaties be ratified by a two-thirds vote of the Senate
The President… shall have Power, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, to make Treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present concur….
President Obama’s position has been that the Paris Agreement is not a treaty but an “executive agreement” and an extension of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and as such does not require ratification by the Senate. So much for those pesky constitutional issues.
Nothing is required immediately from China, the world’s greatest polluter and emitter of greenhouse gases. Any implementation of the Paris Agreement is kicked safely down the road, long after Obama has left the presidency. The whole thing reminds me of nothing so much as an old Soviet-era wisecrack: “They pretend to pay us; we pretend to work.” President Obama pretends he has the power to ratify the Paris Agreement; the Chinese pretend they’re going to do anything.