August 27, 2014
The Obama administration is likely to use upcoming climate talks to push for a treaty-less accord that would "name and shame" countries into reducing their heat-trapping carbon emissions.
Faced with a Congress that has balked at fighting climate change, U.S. negotiators are not expected to seek a new legally-binding treaty that would require Senate ratification. Instead, they're more apt to seek emission-cutting pledges from major polluters such as China.
State Department spokesman Jen Psaki declined to describe the U.S. approach. "Not a word of the new climate agreement currently under discussion has been written, so it is entirely premature to say whether it will or won't require Senate approval," she said in a statement.
Yet climate experts say Obama has little choice. "Realistically what else is he going to do," says Vicki Arroyo, executive director of the nonpartisan Georgetown Climate Center, noting his inability to get the two-thirds majority needed to ratify a treaty.
"They're going for more of a political agreement," Arroyo says. She says there's a track record for this approach. Like the U.S., many countries including China made reduction pledges during the United Nations climate talks in Copenhagen, Denmark, in 2009.