The Republican Party is cementing a long-term agenda ahead of the upcoming international climate change talks in Paris with the aim of subverting President Barack Obama's environmental legacy, according to new reporting by Politico.
The "wide-ranging offensive," as Politico describes it, includes a plan blocking future legislation from passing in Congress and spreading skepticism among world leaders regarding the president's domestic and international climate policies. Party leaders have reportedly been planning the strategy for months.
Under the guidance of Neil Chatterjee, the top energy aide to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), GOP staffers have been calling foreign embassies to tell them Obama's climate agenda for the Paris talks—known as COP21—won't withstand congressional opposition. And McConnell has warned world leaders to "proceed with caution before entering into a binding, unattainable deal with Obama."
Why the attempt at sabotage? Politico explains:
Republicans have no direct way of interfering with December's climate summit in Paris, and Obama's domestic climate strategy relies almost entirely on executive branch regulations that don't require Congress' approval. But the resistance could threaten to gum up progress in carrying out Obama's policies, making it easier to undo them if the GOP retakes the White House in 2016.
The White House unveiled its climate plan in March, with goals to cut U.S. carbon emissions by one-third over the next decade—an agenda which got a tepid response from environmental advocates, who referred to it as "weak" and lacking "any real willingness to address the scale of the climate crisis."
Despite those warnings, Republicans claimed that the climate plan would lead to job losses and hurt low-income families.
The Obama administration is also pushing for COP21 nations to adopt a non-ratified agreement at the climate summit, rather than a treaty, which would require two-thirds approval in the Senate—an unlikely prospect in the Republican-controlled chamber.
Incensed by that workaround, GOP aides are consulting with legal scholars about whether they can insist that any climate deal come before the Senate, sources said.
At the very least, that argument can highlight the fact that a non-ratified agreement won't bind Obama's successors.
But while Republicans continue amassing their obstructionist agenda, experts say their efforts may end up having no impact.
As George Mason University law professor Jeremy Rabkin explained to Politico, "I don’t see anything [Republicans in Congress] can do other than express their view."