Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Copenhagen: Danger Will Robinson. . .

Many of you have probably heard us mention the Copenhagen Treaty in passing. This week, the Copenhagen Treaty took center stage when Margaret Thatcher’s former science advisor, Lord Christopher Monchton, warned us that the United States was about to hand over its sovereignty to a world government. Let’s discuss. . .

What Monchton Said

On Wednesday night at an event sponsored by the Minnesota Free Market Institute, Lord Monchton warned that Obama intended to sign something called the Copenhagen Treaty in December of this year. This 200 page treaty, according to Monchton, would create a “world government” which would draft environmental regulations, which each signatory to the treaty would be required to enforce. This “government” also would oversee the transfer of wealth from the West to third world countries, to satisfy something called a “climate debt” based on the idea that the West has caused more pollution than the rest of the world.

Monchton then stated that if Obama signs the treaty, it will take precedence over the Constitution, and that the United States could not withdraw from the treaty without the agreement of all other treaty signatories.

Is he right? Not quite, though there is reason to be concerned.

What Is The Copenhagen Treaty?

Between December 7-18, 2009, the United Nations Climate Change Conference will meet in Copenhagen, Denmark for the purposes of completing a treaty (the Copenhagen Treaty) that will replace the Kyoto Treaty, which expires in 2012.

The Kyoto Treaty (actually the Kyoto Protocol) is an environmental treaty negotiated through the United Nations, which aims to achieve “stabilization of greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system.” In other words, the treaty aims to force countries to cut their “greenhouse gas emissions” to levels that will not affect the climate. The term “anthropogenic inference” is bureau-speak for “human activity.”

Kyoto was adopted in December 1997 and took effect in February 2005. As of October 2009, 184 countries have signed and ratified the treaty. However, Kyoto does not apply equally. Under Kyoto, only 37 industrialized countries must make cuts -- they must reduce various “greenhouse gases” by 5% from their 1990 levels. These gases include carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, sulphur hexafluoride, hydroflurocarbons, and perfluorocarbons.

The remaining countries are not required to cut their emissions at all. These are the so-called “developing countries.” This includes both China and India, even though both are heavy polluters. Indeed, as of August 2008, China is the world’s largest emitter of greenhouse gases. India is third, just behind the United States.

It was because the developing countries were not included that the United States government never ratified Kyoto. On November 12, 1998, Vice President Algore symbolically signed the protocol, even though he acknowledged that the protocol would not be acted upon by the United States until the developing nations were required to participate. And indeed, the Clinton Administration never submitted the treaty to the Senate for ratification.

The Bush Administration also refused to submit the treaty to the Senate for ratification.

Many environmentalists thought Obama would submit the treaty to the Senate, but he too has refused. In April 2009, Obama said that “it doesn’t make sense for the United States to sign the Kyoto Protocol because it is about to end.”

The Copenhagen Treaty is an attempt to replace the Kyoto Treaty when it expires in 2012. Obama has not committed to signing that treaty yet.

What Does The Copenhagen Treaty Do?

Does the Copenhagen Treaty do what Monchton states? Unfortunately, I can’t tell you because there does not appear to be any draft of the Copenhagen Treaty available for the public to read. Thus, I have no way to confirm whether or not Monchton is correct in his assertion that the treaty includes the word “government” -- not to mention that negotiations on the treaty are not complete.

Indeed, the Treaty is 200 pages long, and at least 2000 of its parts are in dispute. From comments made by Obama’s chief negotiator, Todd Stern, there are at least two major issues that may result in the total failure of the Copenhagen conference: (1) Obama wants China, India, Brazil, South Africa and other developing nations to cut their own emissions, which is not going over too well with those countries, and (2) negotiations have been deadlocked for months about who will pay to help developing countries go low-carbon (estimated cost: $100 billion a year). The developing nations want the West to pay for this, the West has refused.

We also know that Obama has refused to agree to the limits wanted by treaty proponents. At the G8 conference in July, the G8 industrial nations agreed to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 80% by 2050, which they hoped would limit global warming to 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit above pre-industrial levels. This is actually less restrictive than the Kyoto Treaty. Thus, the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said this was not enough. Nevertheless, this appears to be what Obama is proposing for Copenhagen. (Big business has also signed on to this level of cuts and is actively pushing for adoption of laws that would apply these limits to their smaller competitors.)

Beyond that, there is not much that can be said of the treaty at this time.

So Should We Be Worried?

Of course we should be worried. We should never trust treaties or legislation that is not made available for the public to read. Also, the third world has a history of using these treaties to get goodies from guilt-ridden western diplomats. Further, the environmental/socialist movement has a long history now of using these treaties as attacks on capitalism and as attempts to steal national sovereignty. Likewise, big business has a long history of using such regulations to tie the hands of their smaller competitors.

Yet, there is no reason to panic just yet.

Obama can sign this thing in blood if he wants to, but that doesn’t make it law. Before any treaty can become legally binding under United States law, the treaty must be submitted to the Senate for ratification. When (if) that happens, we will get a chance to see the treaty and assess it -- at which point we can make a rational assessment of the treaty and Obama’s negotiating skills, and we can challenge what needs to be challenged. Shadowboxing against something we cannot read or see is counter-productive.

Also, it’s not at all clear that a treaty can hand over significant legislative control to a foreign body. While it is true that a treaty, once ratified, becomes the same as United States law, it still must comply with the requirements of the Constitution. In other words, a treaty could not be used to do anything that the government could not do on its own -- though this may be small conciliation if it still allows significant legislation to be made. Though, that brings up the next question: can Congress cede its legislative duties to a foreign body? This is unlikely because of the clear responsibilities set out by the Constitution -- though I am unaware of this issue having been resolved before (probably because no one has tried to do this before).

Finally, on Lord Monchton’s point about the United States being trapped once it signs, it should be pointed out that “international law” is based on a false premise -- that it is enforceable. The reality is that international law is voluntary. Those who teach international law will cringe at that, but they are deluding themselves. Treaties are voluntary agreements. Sure they can claim to have “binding effect” and there is a whole pile of confused “law” which you can use to interpret those treaties and the such. . . blah blah blah, but the truth is that there is no organization out there that enforces those agreements. No international sheriff is going to come padlock the doors to the United States. Thus, these agreements are not “binding” or “enforceable” in any real sense of those words. And if the United States chooses to renounce the treaty or to simply ignore it, there is no force that will make the United States live up to the treaty.


So in the end, we should thank Lord Monchton for raising this issue and we should be wary of what is going on in Copenhagen. But at the same time, that is all we should do. The ball is in Obama’s court. If and when he gets a treaty completed and signed, then we should examine it closely and blast him for his failures. In the meantime, keep your powder dry.


USArtguy said...

Thank you Andrew for presenting what there is of this subject clearly. The Copenhagen Treaty has sort of been on the periphery of my radar. I've wanted to know more but haven't heard many details and haven't found much time to research it.

I did remember that the Senate has to ratify any treaty before it becomes official (at least as far as the US is concerned) and wasn't too worried. Still, because Obama's party has a 60 seat super majority that doesn't read anything they pass, I am a little concerned that he might submit a horrendous treaty and it would actually get ratified. While no one outside the US can make us comply, our own ignorant politicians can.

I would like to know how many of hose 37 countries who are supposed to have cut their emmissions 5% below 1990 levels are even coming close. I'm guessing none.

As an aside, I found Commentara by way of Big Hollywood, but for a while now, because of articles like this, I've been coming here first.

AndrewPrice said...

Thanks USArtguy! :-) On behalf of the team, I'm flattered!

Of the 37, none of them are anywhere near what they promised, except possibly one or two of the Nordic countries -- I think Norway might be close because they use a ton of hydroelectric power.

There has been a ton of action by the 37 countries, but almost all of it was smoke and mirrors. Take for example, the European "cap and trade" plan. They passed it to much fanfare, but then set the allowable levels of pollution so high that no one actually had to make any cuts. Still, they patted themselves on the back and pointed an effete finger at us for not acting.

You're right about our politicians and the danger of Copenhagen, that's why we should pay attention. But we should wait to raise the outrage level until we know more. It's very possible that there won't be an agreement or that it won't do much more than we've already decided to do.

StanH said...

Isn’t it all to convenient how our Marxist myrmidons get in perfect unison when it comes to screwing the west, most especially the USA. I’m with you, it’s to early to jump on Barry, but my spidey senses tell me that he would love to sign any treaty that links America with the socialist of the world. Thank God for the foresight of the Founders, and the possibility of a dictator wannabe (Barry) in the executive, needing to be balanced out by the judicial, and legislative. Rush was talking about this yesterday, good follow up article Andrew! Keeping watch…

USArtguy said...

Another treaty that I only know a little about, though more than the Copenhagen one, is the Law Of The Sea Treaty or "LOST". This is a treaty that has it's beginnings back in 1973 and, though modified several times, had never been signed until George Bush signed it in 2004. It's thought he signed it to throw a bone to the enviros knowing it wouldn't be ratified. Unfortunately now, as recently as Spring, the Democrat Senate is pushing its ratification.

One of the criticisms is it could force the U.S. to comply with unspecified environmental codes, and that the treaty gives environmental activists the legal standing to sue over river pollution and shut down industry, simply because rivers feed into the sea.

"We gain sovereignty, we gain territory, we gain access to places that we have not had access to as easily," said Don Kraus, president of Citizens for Global Solutions, a group that advocates strengthening international institutions. "We don't stand to lose anything."

Wikipedia has some sanitized information about it but a better place to refer to is


AndrewPrice said...

Thanks Stan, I didn't get a chance to hear Rush yesterday, though I have to admit that a reader asked me about this issue.

I think your Spidey senses are right on. I think Obama would love to sign this "to improve relations with the world" so long as it doesn't have an impact on the economy until after he's gone.

AndrewPrice said...

USArtguy, You're absolutely right on the Law of the Sea Treaty. I've been wary of that one since Reagan refused to sign it. Not only does it include the environmental provisions you are talking about, but:

(1) it's leading to conflict as countries fight about what is considered territorial waters and what isn't -- see the Spratly Islands, which actually resulted in some minor shooting a few years back between various Asian navies; and

(2) it provides that the sea floor belongs to the human race, and thus third world countries are entitled to a cut of anything that western companies manage to mine from the floor or below -- beyond the territorial waters.

That's socialism pure and simple. That's why Reagan (and Clinton) refused to sign it. But Bush did. Don't get me started.

Writer X said...

I listened to parts of Monchton's speech yesterday on a local morning radio program that I listen to. It was alarming, so thank you for providing additional clarity for it here. Obama is too easily manipulated by people outside his own country and for that we should remain vigilant.

AndrewPrice said...

You're welcome X. I'm glad he brought this to everyone's attention. And I would love to get a look at the treaty itself -- I just can't find it anywhere.

There is a "Copenhagen Treaty" floating around on line, but it was created by the WWF and Greenpeace as a wishlist -- it's not the real treaty.

Fortunately, we have time to wait and watch.

Tennessee Jed said...

I will always worry about this stuff as long as we are so under-represented in both houses of congress. Who knows what kind of back door deal Lindsey Graham will make just to get an invite to Obama's next easter egg hunt on the white house lawn.

Nice piece, Andrew. My only criticism, and it is a small 'nit' if you will, is your use of a capital "A" in the heinous noun "algore" since doing so ascribes a certain level of importance that simply does not exist.

AndrewPrice said...

Jed, My humblest apologies. I will endeavor in the future not to capitalize algore! LOL!

I think you're right. Unless we get enough solid conservatives in the Congress to block something like this, there is always the danger.

Anonymous said...

One question. Say he signs it and it passes our esteemed idiots in DC. Who owns us NOW? We step out of line in as far as the treaty, aren't there sanctions? Wouldn't that be a UN version of an animal house food fight? We are dependent on the middle east and china et al, wouldn't they also pile on, like blood in the water? Just a question.

AndrewPrice said...

Anonymous, You raise an excellent question.

If it passes, we are theoretically bound by its terms. So if we refuse to live up to our end, other countries would be "justified" in imposing whatever sanctions are allowed under the treaty. But that depends on whether or not they have the will to do it -- which is rare against a country of our size and importance (same thing with countries like China).

But there is one more aspect that needs to be considered. Since the treaty becomes US law, we are theoretically bound by it in that United States courts will enforce it just like they would any other law passed by Congress. Thus, theoretically, other treaty countries could sue in US courts and get court orders to comply with the requirements of the treaty -- both against private persons/companies and governmental agencies.

However, I have never seen a situation where a court has claimed to have the power to force Congress to pass a law. Under our Constitution, that power lies exclusively with the Congress. That's why these treaties usually require country legislatures to pass laws enacting the treaty (in addition to ratifying the treaty).

If that doesn't happen, or the laws Congress passes aren't consistent with the treaty, I'm not sure that a court would have the power to order Congress to act. In fact, I'm pretty sure they wouldn't. But that's not a settled issue to my knowledge.

ArmChairGeneral said...

Obama IS a fascist socialist Marxist in the same vein as Hitler, Mussolini, Pol Pot, Ho Chi Min, Stalin, Saddam Hussein, Ahmadinejad, Castro and Che and deserves nothing less than to be treated as a traitor to the United States Constitution! He is attacking free speech!

So what if Fox News doesn't like him.. So what? It's our GOD GIVEN RIGHT as Americans to not like the government. It's why the founding fathers wanted us to be a Republic just shy of an Anarchy. The government is always corrupt. Pigs watching over pork nothing more the whole lot of them.

Stand up and fight for the constitution which is most assuredly NOT a living document. Fight for your rights before they are gone. Fight communism here and fight against this administration. I have made my choice. Political correctness and liberalism is the path to communism. Obama is my enemy and whether or not you know it if you love freedom he is also yours.

Cheryl said...

Wow! I'm so stirred by what ArmChairGeneral just said that I forgot what I was gonna say!!

Oh yeah... Andrew, thanks so much for this article. When I saw that small piece of Monchton's speech I was very disturbed! Thanks for making sense of it.

I echo USArtguy. I too found Commentarama through BH and now come here first. I have noticed your absence over at BH and miss your humorous and/or insightful replies. (Especially to the trolls - no one can zing them like you and Lawhawk!)
But I guess all the time you spend here on articles like this leaves little time for playing over at BH.

AndrewPrice said...

ACG, Well said. Hear hear! It makes me happy to see so many Americans start to get involved to protect their country. Very proud! :-)

AndrewPrice said...

Cheryl, You're welcome. This one is certainly worth looking into! This whole treaty could be very bad news.

And thanks for the kind words. That's high praise to add us to the list with BH! I keep trying to get over to BH, but it's been a particularly busy six months suddenly, and with trying to keep up the pace with the articles here (and doing the day job), I haven't had the chance to get over there as much as I would like.

(I do miss messing with the trolls. . . that was always fun.)

ArmChairGeneral said...

I posted this on my blog as well and let me say that it has stirred some patriotic support for Mr O dude. I invite you all to come help defend what is just and right and participate in my blogging against this tyranny. Look me up on facebook if you want under the name cronickain or Rob Adams. Come, join the fight!

MegaTroll said...

Thanks for summarizing this for us. I see articles on this on the news, but they never make much sense. Now I know what's going on! That's why I come here every day too, right after Drudge.

I saw each of you at BH for the first time too. I haven't been over there in a while though.

CrispyRice said...

Thanks for the summary, Andrew! Another great article. Where do you find the time to track all this stuff down? Guess I have more letters to write to my Congressmen.

Like WriterX, I heard Monchton's speech on a semi-local / syndicated morning show - Quinn and Rose. If anyone is interested, they're going to replay it tomorrow morning at the top of the 2nd hour. You can listen to them live online or download their podcasts for free from their home station's website:


AndrewPrice said...

Mega, You're welcome. That's why we're here -- to talk about this stuff. If you and anyone else has questions on a topic, just post them or e-mail them and we'll see what we can do.

AndrewPrice said...

CrispyRice, Thanks! Time is all relative. This is one issue we should pay attention to, and I'm glad you're writing your Congressman -- just wait until we hear something a little more definite next month.

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