“Pursuing a deal in Paris as an executive agreement, instead of as a treaty, would not only violate the plain meaning of the United Nations convention, it would also defy the historical understanding of the constitutional limits that the president is subject to in connection with foreign affairs,” Lee said this month at the Heritage Foundation.
Constitutional limits safeguard citizens’ sovereignty, Lee said.
But when asked if the president has the right to approve a deal in Paris without congressional approval, White House spokesman Josh Earnest said: “It’s hard to take seriously from some members of Congress who deny the fact that climate change exists, that they should have some opportunity to render judgment about a climate change agreement.” That answer essentially claimed a right for the executive to ignore the legislature if he or she had substantive policy disagreements — which might surprise the framers of the Constitution.
Climate negotiations in Paris will be under the auspices of the United Nations’ 21st Conference of the Parties on climate change, often referred to as COP-21. The overarching goal is to agree on reductions of greenhouse gas emissions and thus keep Earth’s temperature from rising more than 2 degrees Celsius by mid-century.
Countries list actions they’ll take to cut emissions by 2030, but the U.N. admits that those commitments won’t achieve their goal. China and other countries need to make much bigger commitments before the 2-degrees target is possible.