Politics

At UN Climate Conference Democrats Argue Federal Government is More than ‘Just the President’

From billionaire activists to state governors, just about every Democrat took the chance to blast President Trump.

Many top Democrats swung through a climate conference in Bonn, Germany to discuss climate change. Along the way, many went out of their way to denounce Republican President Donald Trump. In fact, according to a large number of Democrats in attendance, Donald Trump does not actually speak for America, especially in regards to climate change.

President Trump has drawn scrutiny from around the world for pulling the United States out of the Paris Agreement on climate change. The agreement seeks to gradually reduce the emissions of greenhouse gases in an effort to slow global warming.

Senator Ben Cardin, a Democrat representing Maryland, went as far as to claim that the United States is “still in.” Cardin went even further, singling Trump out:

“I want to make it clear: The federal government is not just the president of the United States.”

While it’s certainly true that the federal government is larger than the president and indeed the White House, the president is the elected representative. Like it or not, now that President Trump has removed the United States from the Paris Agreement, the nation is no longer part of the deal.

Congress could pass legislation compelling the United States to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement. However, with Republicans in control of both the House and the Senate, there is essentially no chance of that happening. Even if Congress were to pass laws compelling the United States to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the president would be able to veto. A supermajority would then be needed.

Democrats are trying to rally local and state governments to commit to the “America’s Pledge,” under which local and state governments would uphold the basic stipulations of the Paris Agreement.

In other words, the United States won’t be part of the Paris Agreement or any similar efforts in the near future. Democratic leaders might not like that, but they will have to accept it.

Billionaire climate activist Tom Steyer and Democrat and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg paid for a pavilion near the United Nations meeting. There, democratic bigwigs, including former Vice President Al Gore and California Governor Jerry Brown, have been sighted holding court.

Leading Democrats Start Insurgent “America’s Pledge” Group

Democrats are trying to rally local and state governments to commit to addressing climate change. Under “America’s Pledge,” local and state governments can agree to uphold the basic stipulations of the Paris Agreement. Much of the Northeast and the West Coast has signed onto the agreement. Companies are also being encouraged to fight climate change.

So far, countless state and local governments have signed up. In fact, in terms of economic power, these sub-federal governments are actually larger than any other country except China and the United States as a whole. However, even in spite of their economic clout, these governments will be unable to fully account for America’s would-be commitment.

United States Only Country Not Part of Agreement

As of now, the United States is the only country that is not part of the Paris Agreement. Even North Korea has signed on. Until recently, Syria had also not signed the agreement, but even the war-torn nation has joined.

Slamming the United States for pulling out, North Korea’s Foreign Ministry stated:

“This is the height of egotism and moral vacuum seeking only their own well-being at the cost of the entire planet.”

Of course, given that North Korea’s economy is nearly non-existent, there’s little the country can contribute to climate change, and even less it can do to slow global warming.

It’s easy to talk when you have no skin in the game.

Brian Brinker

Brian Brinker is an OpsLens Contributor and political consultant. Brinker has an M.A in Global Affairs from American University.

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