Other nations handled the Paris Agreement better than America. It’s embarrassing.

The hysteria about Trump’s repudiation of the Paris Agreement obscures the vital Constitutional issue at stake and the important lesson we can learn from other democracies (journalists hide this from us). Nobody else allows one man to make great commitments for the nation. We should not, either.Democracy in Action

The Left loudly asserts that the Paris Agreement was a major agreement, whose provisions were essential to save the Earth. But they also say it is not a treaty, and so does not require Senate ratification. The former is debatable. The latter is wrong; it clearly contradicts the Constitution.

For another perspective, how have our peers — the other developed nations — ratified the Paris Agreement? It is an important decision. The developed nations will pay for the Paris Agreement, both by cutting their CO2 emissions and funding the Green Climate Fund. They required either approval of the legislature or the Cabinet (a formal executive body in many governments). No other developed nation with a democracy allows one man to make such commitments. We are exceptional in this respect, exceptionally stupid. It’s a vital truth, one journalists hide from us.

It’s good news and bad news. While our Republic appears to be decaying fast (see Death of the American Constitution), democracy thrives in other lands.

Nations who ratified it with only approval of the Cabinet

Some governments of developed nations approved it without approval of the legislature — legally (unlike America). Israel ratified it on November 22, after approval by the Cabinet on November 14. The Knesset’s approval is not required. Among the large less-developed nations, India ratified it on October 2, after approval by the Union Cabinet (parliament’s approval not required for treaties).

In these, like most nations in which executive branch can ratify treaties, agreements signed by the executive have no domestic effect except by legislation approved by the legislature.

COP-21 Logo

Nations whose legislatures approved the Paris Agreement

See the dates of ratification at the UN website. The approval dates are from news reports.

Most of the less-developed nations also followed the rule of law

We can learn from these nations about how to run a democracy. For example…

Some have not ratified the treaty

Holland, Russia, and Switzerland have not ratified it. Nor have Iran, Iraq, Turkey, and 44 other nations who are parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. See the list here.

Another detail journalists don’t tell us.

How much would the Green Fund contributions called for by the Paris Agreement have cost the US? This large and open-ended obligation was one reason Trump gave for withdrawing from the Agreement. Here is India’s estimate of what they would be due from the developed nations, from their October 2015 statement of “Intended Nationally Determined Contributions” (see an explanation of that language). Red emphasis added.

“India’s climate actions have so far been largely financed from domestic resources. A substantial scaling up of the climate action plans would require greater resources. … a preliminary estimate suggests that at least USD 2.5 trillion (at 2014-15 prices) will be required for meeting India’s climate change actions between now and 2030.”

Learn

Conclusions

It is a sad day when we can take lessons from China in best practices of a Republic.

The Constitution is all we have. Without it America is just a collection of people living together, many of whom don’t like each other. No matter how serious the issue, we cannot afford to fight it by burning strips of the Constitution.

Should the US ratify the Paris Agreement? That is a separate question. See yesterday’s post, The cold facts about the Paris Agreement, global warming, & the Constitution.

For More Information

If you liked this post, like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter. See all posts about the Constitution, about ways to reform America, and especially these…

  1. Important: Forecast: Death of the American Constitution.
  2. Conservatives tells us not to worry about the Constitution’s death.
  3. We’ve worked through all 5 stages of grief for the Republic. Now, on to The New America!
  4. The Barons of England warn us not to throw away what they gained in Magna Carta.
  5. The GOP might impeach Trump, changing our politics forever – for the better.
Executive Unbound
Available at Amazon.

Recommended books about the Republic.

The Executive Unbound: After the Madisonian Republic by Eric Posner. He advocates smiling while we slide to tyranny, and console ourselves with illusions. See this from the publisher. …

“Ever since Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr. used ‘imperial presidency’ as a book title, the term has become central to the debate about the balance of power in the U.S. government. Since the presidency of George W. Bush, when advocates of executive power such as Dick Cheney gained ascendancy, the argument has blazed hotter than ever. Many argue the Constitution itself is in grave danger. What is to be done?

“The answer, according to legal scholars Eric Posner and Adrian Vermeule, is nothing. In The Executive Unbound, they provide a bracing challenge to conventional wisdom, arguing that a strong presidency is inevitable in the modern world. Most scholars, they note, object to today’s level of executive power because it varies so dramatically from the vision of the framers. But there is nothing in our system of checks and balances that intrinsically generates order or promotes positive arrangements. In fact, the greater complexity of the modern world produces a concentration of power, particularly in the White House.

“The authors chart the rise of executive authority straight through to the Obama presidency. Political, cultural and social restraints, they argue, have been more effective in preventing dictatorship than any law. The executive-centered state tends to generate political checks that substitute for the legal checks of the Madisonian constitution.”

 

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6 thoughts on “Other nations handled the Paris Agreement better than America. It’s embarrassing.

  1. Because of over reach by executive branch America loses Moral High Ground with bully at helm. On top of that we have a “do nothing” Congress allowing usurpation of power.

    Correct Fabius. We gotta fix this. Gotta personal plan.

    Like

  2. Because of over reach by executive branch America loses Moral High Ground with bully at helm. On top of that we have a “do nothing” Congress allowing usurpation of power.

    Correct Fabius. We gotta fix this. Gotta personal plan. It involves getting word of your site to as many as possible.

    Like

    1. Longtrail,

      First, we must identify the people responsible. Those whose apathy and passivity have made America’s political machinery ineffective, perhaps dysfunctional. Whose abdication of their responsibilities has put the Republic in danger. That is, of course, us. The American people.

      If we don’t run America, others will do so — in their own interest. That’s the Great Circle of Life, just like in the Disney films.

      The Constitutional machinery remains powerful, awaiting only our effort to make it work.

      For more about this see these posts: https://fabiusmaximus.com/america/political-reform-67124-2/

      Like

  3. Sorry but I am a bit confused by this post. Constitutional ratification and declaration have not been done by the letter of the law for a long time now. I believe it was about the Iran agreement that Sec. Kerry is supposed to have said that something like “…treaties are not possible any more…”

    From what I know, international agreements like the Paris agreement have little chance of ratification in the US Congress. So, the executive always tries to take action without it.

    Maybe the fact that declarations of war and international treaties would so often fail the votes in the Congress is a sign that they are really bad decisions, plain and simple.

    This is not embarrassing to me, anyway.

    Like

    1. wkevinw,

      (1) “Constitutional ratification and declaration have not been done by the letter of the law for a long time now.”

      You appear to be misinformed. Here are some recent treaties, all properly ratified by the Senate.

      2001 – Convention on Cybercrime – a highly controversial proposal. U.S. Senate ratified August 2006.
      2002 – SORT (Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty) AKA Moscow Treaty – limits the nuclear arsenals of Russia and the U.S.
      2005 – Dominican Republic-Central America Free Trade Agreement.
      2010 – New START (The New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty) U.S./Russia Treaty – limits the nuclear arsenal capabilities of Russia and the U.S. while allowing for inspection.
      2012 – United States–Korea Free Trade Agreement (KORUS FTA).

      (2) “Kerry is supposed to have said that something like “…treaties are not possible any more…”

      First, Google shows nothing for that quote. Second, you want to disregard the Constitution if a politician says it is inconvenient?

      (3) “From what I know, international agreements like the Paris agreement have little chance of ratification in the US Congress.”

      First, what does that mean? Second, can you provide some support for that?

      (4) “Maybe the fact that declarations of war and international treaties would so often fail the votes in the Congress”

      What does “would so often fail” mean? Do you mean to say they “so often fail”? If so, that depends on what you consider to be “often.” Here are some examples of treaties signed by the executive not ratified by the US Senate. Only three.

      2007 – Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
      2011 – Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement
      2017 – Paris Agreement

      (5) ” is a sign that they are really bad decisions, plain and simple.”

      I agree. After all most proposals for laws — not just treaties — fail to get approval.

      (6) “This is not embarrassing to me, anyway.”

      Me, neither. That’s not what I said was embarrassing. What was embarrassing is that a US president, one of the two major political parties, and many Americans were willing to ignore a basic rule of democracy (not just ours, but everybody’s). As I said at the opening and closing:

      “Nobody else allows one man to make great commitments for the nation. …It is a sad day when we can take lessons from China in best practices of a Republic.”

      Like

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