- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 5, 2016

President Obama took a victory lap on his climate change agenda Wednesday, hailing the formal approval of the U.N.-sponsored Paris climate agreement aimed at reducing carbon emissions worldwide.

“Today’s a historic day in the fight to protect our planet for future generations,” Mr. Obama said in the White House rose garden. “Today the world meets the moment.”

The pact will go into effect in 30 days, just before Election Day in the U.S. Many Republican lawmakers have criticized Mr. Obama for deliberately bypassing Congress, forging an agreement that technically is not a treaty subject to Senate ratification.

House Speaker Paul D. Ryan, Wisconsin Republican, said Mr. Obama “has once again acted unlawfully by signing an international treaty without Senate ratification, as required by the Constitution.”

With the approval of the 28-nation European Union, the Paris agreement has the required 55 countries representing 55 percent of global emissions for the accord to enter into effect — less than a year after being negotiated by the Obama administration and more than 190 countries in December.

The relatively swift implementation comes just five weeks before the U.S. presidential election, in which Republican nominee Donald Trump has vowed to cancel the accord.


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Mr. Obama said of the agreement, “History may well judge it as a turning point for our planet.”

A total of 72 nations have now signed on to the Paris accord. The world’s two largest polluters, the U.S. and China, formally joined the agreement last month. India, another major polluter, signed on to the pact on Sunday.

The president patted himself on the back for his administration’s leadership, saying from automobiles to power plants, “we’ve changed fundamentally the way we consume energy.”

“One of the reasons I ran for this office was to make America a leader in this mission,” Mr. Obama said. “Over the past eight years, we’ve done just that.”

U.S. energy-related carbon dioxide emissions in 2015 were 12 percent below their 2005 levels, mainly due to changes in the electric power sector such as burning less coal, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

The president boasted that his administration has accelerated the transition away from fossil fuels to clean energy while maintaining job growth.

“We led by example with historic investments in growing industries like wind, and solar, that created a steady stream of new jobs,” Mr. Obama said. “We set the first-ever nationwide standards to limit the amount of carbon pollution that power plants can dump into the air that our children breathe. The skeptics said these actions would kill jobs. Instead, we saw, even as we were bringing down these carbon levels, the longest streak of job creation in American history.”

Mr. Ryan disputed that assessment, saying the deal “would be disastrous for the American economy.”

“It carelessly throws away the great gains that the United States has made over the past decade in energy development,” Mr. Ryan said. “The abundant, low-cost energy that we have unlocked will now be shut in the ground, eliminating the economic growth and jobs that come with development. The result will be higher energy costs for Americans — which will be especially painful for the poorest among us.”

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