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Obama to Seek ‘Politically Binding’ Climate Agreement

RP Siegel | Tuesday September 2nd, 2014 | 16 Comments

ObamaHow much room is there to maneuver between a rock and a hard place?

That’s a question President Barack Obama must be asking himself, when it comes to the question of climate change. On one hand, you have overwhelming evidence of an increasingly unstable climate system, posing an existential threat to the future of mankind — and most of the entire world angry at the U.S. for being the leading cumulative emitter and doing so little at the governmental level to address the problem. On the other hand, you have some Senate Republicans who are politically entrenched in denial of the problem, along with coal-state Democrats ready to contribute enough down-votes to block any attempt at a climate treaty — which requires a two-thirds majority to pass.

With a United Nations summit meeting coming up in Paris next year that will attempt to come up with some kind of meaningful global agreement, the president is determined not to show up empty-handed this time.

So, in what appears to be a move modeled on his domestic climate agenda where he bypassed congressional action by means of an executive order directed through the EPA, he is now looking for some kind of international agreement that does not meet the legal definition of a treaty — but could still demonstrate meaningful intent on the part of the U.S. — that would hopefully convince other laggard countries to pick up their game as well.

This, according to negotiators, would be accomplished by “naming and shaming” those countries that have not been cooperating. “If you want a deal that includes all the major emitters, including the U.S., you cannot realistically pursue a legally binding treaty at this time,” said Paul Bledsoe, a climate change official in the former Clinton administration.

How is this kind of maneuvering viewed from abroad? “There is an implicit understanding that this not require ratification by the Senate,” said an apparently sympathetic Laurence Tubiana, France’s climate change ambassador to the U.N.

Clearly, the president wants to show the world that he, personally, is truly concerned about the need for meaningful action on climate change. But is this merely a toothless gesture, intended to burnish his legacy? Or can he translate his intentions into what he’s calling a “politically binding” agreement that other highly emitting nations, including Russia, China and India, will be willing to participate with in both word and deed? Only time will tell.

Image credit: Beth: Flickr Creative Commons

RP Siegel, PE, is an author, inventor and consultant. He has written for numerous publications ranging from Huffington Post to Mechanical Engineering. He and Roger Saillant co-wrote the successful eco-thriller Vapor Trails. RP, who is a regular contributor to Triple Pundit and Justmeans, sees it as his mission to help articulate and clarify the problems and challenges confronting our planet at this time, as well as the steadily emerging list of proposed solutions. His uniquely combined engineering and humanities background help to bring both global perspective and analytical detail to bear on the questions at hand.

Follow RP Siegel on Twitter.


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  • OmarChristie

    With an ongoing US economic crisis, record unemployment/underemployment, the lowest labor participation rates we’ve seen in 50 years this bafoon of a President wants to spend untold billions of dollars on a “Climate Change” agenda that will do absolutely nothing to measurably change the climate on a global basis. Insanity …!

    • http://www.triplepundit.com Nick Aster

      Without it, there’s a good chance the economy will never recover. You’re not seeing the forest for the trees…

      • poorthing71

        Nick with all due respect no one whose head is still vertical and attached to their body has ever claimed the man made global warming agenda is going to help economic growth. Just the opposite it is generally agreed it will reduce GDP significantly in most countries. The last thing the sick world economies need with questionable impact on this mostly “natural” weather cycle.

        • http://www.triplepundit.com Nick Aster

          First of all, what does “man made global warming agenda” mean? If you believe there is an “agenda” you’re already on the wrong track. It doesn’t really matter if you believe in climate change or not. The fact is, moving to a clean energy economy does mean temporary costs and a lot of job upheaval. But in the long run it means more jobs, cheaper energy, less money wasted on health and environmental cleanup and ultimately a stronger economy. Doing nothing is putting our heads in the sand and will bite us far harder than any temporary hardship today. Finding a smart way to bridge us to the new economy is what we need to do.

        • poorthing71

          What I mean is there are two schools of thought on global warming. One based on historical data suggest the warming is part of a normal climate cycle and man has little to do with it and the “man made” global warming supporters feel that man is mostly if not completely responsible and drastic changes in our sources must be made to save the planet and centralization control of green house gases by fine folks like the UN will be required. It also will require lots of money be taken from the developed countries especially us. No business model based on current green energy sources has been shown that it can efficiently provide energy for our country without much higher energy costs and the reduction of available energy with the reduction of living standards job losses that imposes. Several European countries have gone green at great expense and the results have been more jobs short term less jobs long term.

        • mbee1

          I suggest a practical demonstation of the costs. Germany, a huge chunk is wind and solar, they have the highest energy cost in the EU for the comman domestic user. All except for wind all their night energy and cloudy day energy is from Frence nuclear plants and coal plants in Germany. Merkel is on shaky ground in her government as the peons are complaining on mass and the greens are complaining if the policy is changed.

        • siquijorisland

          Only the uniformed think the is about climate change the rest of know that is for UN political control.

        • mbee1

          That is what the head ot the IPCC said in a speech as have a number of others, it is about income redistribution from you to some hell hole country so the elite can steal it.

        • siquijorisland

          you are correct

  • socalpa

    Still claiming last centuries Failed predictions are Valid ? The only thing C02 causes to rise is Government Grants to justify new Taxes and Regs.

    Global Warming Ceased almost two Decades ago in all major datasets.

    From Nature Climate Change Sept 2013 by Dr. John Fyfe lead author IPCC AR4

    Overestimated global warming over the past 20 years

    John C. Fyfe, Nathan P. Gillett and Francis W. Zwiers

    The inconsistency between observed and simulated global warming is even more striking for temperature trends computed over the past fifteen years (1998–2012). For this period, the observed trend of 0.05 ± 0.08 °C per decade is more than four times smaller than the average simulated trend of 0.21 ± 0.03 °C per decade (Fig. 1b). It is worth noting that the observed trend over this period — not significantly different from ZERO*
    *emphasis mine

  • mbee1

    If you are a progressive lie and lie big time. Most of the world is not mad at the US. The US has actually met the Kyoto goals on CO2. The leftists are mad at the US as it is not taxing itself with phony carbon tax and sending the money to the third world hell holes so the elite can build bigger houses and spend more time on vacation away from the hell hole. Never mind that the science shows CO2 level change in the past never changed the climate just like the present Mauna Loa study, zero correlation between CO2 and climate change. Nevermind that the models do not predict and never have. Since the climate per the IPCC has not actually changed in sixteen years why the tears and lamant by the the left? Oh yes, no taxes to spend on their favorite project.

    • http://www.triplepundit.com/ RPSiegel

      If you folks would actually read some of the articles here instead of just jumping on here to spread the Fox News gospel you might actually learn something. The linkage between CO2 and climate was established as scientific fact over a hundred years ago, The only uncertainty is in understanding the extent of the impact given the complexities of climate science. This business about no warming in 20 years, is total bunk. There was a temperature spike 14 years ago due to El Nino, a well-understood climate cycle, which, when added to the carbon impact caused a particular high.There is ample evidence that efforts to deal with the carbon-induced climate threat will not only improve but revitalize the slumping economy. For starters, there will be massively reduced costs in health care, storm damage and drought-related crop losses. It took a long time for people to accept the scientific linkage between smoking and lung cancer, and even now people still smoke. Perhaps you guys are among them.

      • mbee1

        Apparently you are so fixed in your opinions which are mostly wrong or distorted you never read the posts. The IPCC admits the climate has not warmed in 16 years as shown in the giss data set. They of course being AGW supporters than give an opinion unsupported by evidence which has nothing to do with El Nino. The storm damage is less in the last two years than the average per the reinsurance industry latest report, reported here on Yahoo a while back. As to smoking, sure a few die, plenty more do not, smoking a drug makes a lot of people feel better which is why e cigarettes are flourishing dispite the current attempts to banish them. The claim CO2 warming the world denial has something to with Fox news is a liberal tax and spend claim thrown about to try and snow ball sceptics into being silent, reminds me of the book 1984 and its mind control. Incidently the hottest year in the last seventy eight in the US was 1936 per NOAA, which is of course a creature of Fox news.If you believe in AGW than if would help you to accuratly report the facts rather than repeat falsehoods and distortions picked up from other supporters, urban legends written large is one way to discribe them, junk science is another.

        • http://www.triplepundit.com/ RPSiegel

          Where do you get this stuff? The hottest year on record was 2012, you can look it up right here in this (among many) articles which was reluctantly admitted by one of your fellow climate skeptics.http://www.forbes.com/sites/patrickmichaels/2013/01/03/2012-was-the-warmest-year-in-u-s-temperature-history-barely/ So how could there be no warming in the past 16 years if 2012 was the warmest year ever? Whatever it is you’re smoking, it’s not science. If you actually read the science, you’ll see that the ocean has been absorbing huge amounts of heat. Once that capacity is exhausted, air temperatures will rise more quickly.

  • Boyd Redding

    Obama Fatigue Syndrome is setting in.

  • Will Hunting

    As many tech companies have found out, there is a serious price to pay for being affiliated with Obama’s criminal regime.