(CNSNews.com)-- A bipartisan group of senators introduced a resolution last week expressing the sense of the Senate that any agreement reached at the climate talks in Paris next month “shall have no force or effect” unless the Senate gives its “advice and consent”.
According to the resolution jointly introduced on Thursday by Senators Jim Inhofe (R-OK), Joe Manchin (D-WV), and Roy Blunt (R-MO.), “no funds shall be authorized in support of that protocol, amendment, extension or other agreement, including for the Green Climate Fund, until that protocol, amendment, extension, or other agreement has been submitted to Senate for advice and consent…”
“The U.S. Senate must be able to exercise its constitutional role to approve any agreement that emerges from the Paris climate talks,” Manchin explained in a press release.
Secretary of State John Kerry caused international confusion over the legal nature of the agreement when he told the Financial Times that there were "‘not going to be legally binding reduction targets like Kyoto’ - a reference to the 1997 Kyoto protocol, a UN climate treaty that had targets for cutting emissions that countries ratifying it were legally obliged to meet.”
The U.S. signed, but did not ratify, the Kyoto Protocol.
After Kerry’s comments were published, French President François Hollande expressed disagreement over Kerry’s claim that the Paris agreement would be non-binding.
Hollande reportedly said, “We must give the agreement in Paris — if there is an agreement — a binding nature, insofar as the commitments that will be made have to be honored and respected.”
“The [Financial Times] interview with Secretary Kerry may have been read to suggest that the U.S. supports a completely non-binding approach,” a State Department spokesperson told CNSNews.com via email.
“That is not the case and that is not Secretary Kerry’s position. Our position has not changed: the U.S. is pressing for an agreement that contains provisions both legally binding and non-legally binding.”
The official also suggested that although the State Department would try to follow the Constitution, there was no guarantee that a climate change agreement negotiated in Paris would be submitted to the Senate for its approval.
Article 2, Section 2 of the Constitution states that 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..."
“We will be very careful about following constitutional procedures once we know what the final agreement says.” the spokesperson told CNSNews.com. “As of now, though, we genuinely don’t know. The agreement is still being negotiated and probably will be all the way to Paris,”
During a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing in October, Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY) pressed Todd Stern, the State Department’s special envoy for climate change, on whether a binding agreement would be sent to the Senate for its advice and consent.
Stern would not commit to that. Instead, he suggested that "once we have an agreement, we will evaluate it at that time and we will act fully in accordance with laws. You know, there are different procedures by which the United States has historically and continues to join international agreements."