The Republican Party is saving the world!
I know it sounds ridiculous but hear me out.
The climate agreement reached in Paris does not contain any mandates for specific emissions reductions by any country. Everything is voluntary.
And we have our Republican Party to thank for that!
No international climate accord would have much meaning if the United States – historically the world’s biggest polluter, and still one of the biggest – was not a party to it. But by U.S. law, treaties have to be ratified by Congress. And if emissions reductions were REQUIRED by the agreement, then it would be a TREATY. With Republicans controlling both houses, a climate treaty would be dead on arrival.
A climate AGREEMENT, however, is not.
In order to include the United States, there could be no “climate treaty.” That was a given from the start. An agreement such as the one reached in Paris, however, does not require Congressional approval.
And perhaps an agreement right now is better than a treaty. Here’s why.
If, hypothetically, we could effect a treaty that stipulated specific emissions reductions – particularly for the biggest polluters like us and China and India – then, once we met those targets, it would be torturously difficult, politically, to go further than those targets. There would be enormous inertia at the point when we met our initial goals, especially if vested interests were continuing to dispute their necessity.
And if specific targets had been included as requirements within the Paris agreement, it is certain that at this point in time – with where the collective will and consensus (of the most powerful nations) is today — those targets would have been woefully inadequate to the scale of the crisis. (Note that if all the countries hold just to the commitments they made in Paris, temperatures will still be on a course to rise over 3 degrees Celsius by the end of the century – a complete disaster for the human race!!)
Therefore, I say, much better to have created a framework, a mechanism for reducing emissions and revising targets as we go IN RESPONSE TO THE SCIENCE (and to the tangible developments of the global warming crisis). And that is a huge part of what this agreement has accomplished, with its brilliant idea of forging consensual standards of measurement and verification, and its ongoing international report-and-review protocol.
Now if some Republican dipshit does get elected president, chances are the U.S. might bow out of the voluntary reporting protocol. But you know … I mean … talk about peer pressure! If there is such a thing as international peer pressure, THAT is what this agreement provides (among other things).
And I’m stoked. I think it’s a more hopeful outcome than a bunch of inadequate targets.
So again I say, Hey, maybe the Republicans are saving the world. Unintentionally, but still.