As Obama administration officials confer Tuesday at the climate talks in Paris, a who’s who of top climate change doubters will be testifying before a Senate subcommittee at a hearing convened by Texas Sen. Ted Cruz.
The timing is no coincidence. Mr. Cruz’s hearing comes as the latest in a series of moves making it clear to the international community that the Republican-controlled Congress isn’t on board with President Obama’s effort to cement his legacy with a deal at the Paris climate conference.
The rising Republican drumbeat may have already prompted the European Union to back off of its earlier insistence that any carbon pollution goals in the final agreement need to be legally binding, according to The Associated Press.
“We need the United States on board, and we have to find a solution,” EU Climate Commissioner Miguel Arias Canete told reporters on the sidelines of the conference. “We understand the concerns they have because of the political situation they have in the Congress.”
No sooner had the talks begun than the House and Senate sent a shot over the bow by passing joint resolutions against the EPA’s Clean Power Plan, the cornerstone of the White House’s plan to drive down greenhouse gas emissions. The rule has also been challenged in court by 25 states.
A State Department envoy told reporters that the vote would have no impact on the talks, hosted by the United Nations Environment Program and also known as COP21, pointing out that Mr. Obama plans to veto the resolutions. Still, the tone was set.
“The message could not be more clear that Republicans and Democrats in both the U.S. Senate and U.S. House do not support the president’s climate agenda, and the international community should take note,” said Sen. James M. Inhofe, chairman of the Committee on Environment and Public Works, in a statement after the vote.
While Senate Republicans have insisted that any legally binding treaty must be ratified, Mr. Obama has been cagier, saying in Paris that the “process” and “procedures” must be legally binding but that the “targets themselves may not have the force of treaties.”
Mr. Obama has pledged to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 26 percent to 28 percent below 2005 levels over the next decade and by 80 percent by 2050, goals that Republicans lambasted during a Dec. 1 hearing by the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology hearing.
“The U.S. pledge to the U.N. is estimated to prevent only one-fiftieth of one degree Celsius temperature rise over the next 85 years! Incredible!” said Committee Chairman Lamar Smith in a statement afterward. “This would be laughable if it weren’t for the tremendous costs it imposes on the American people.”
The same day, the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works released a “white paper” by the majority staff on the talks, known as COP21, called “Forecast for COP21: Senate Predicts Obama’s Climate Promises Come Up Short Again.”
Mr. Inhofe accompanied the release of the paper with a statement saying the president’s target for emission reductions “doesn’t even add up to what it claims, and will not add up to achieve any measurable impact on curbing global temperatures or curtailing global warming.”
Democrats soon rallied: Ten Senate Democrats and former Vice President Al Gore held a press conference Saturday in Paris to counter the current of Republican opposition and show support for Mr. Obama.
“U.S. leadership has played a critical role in bringing us to this time in history and we will not walk away from this global opportunity,” said Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin, Maryland Democrat and ranking Democrat on the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, in a statement.
Environmentalists lambasted Republicans for acting counter to the spirit of the talks, such as with Thursday’s House vote to lift the oil export ban.
“While world leaders seek to forge an international agreement to slow global warming, the last thing Congress should do is try to speed it up by lifting our oil export ban,” said Margie Alt, executive director of Environment America, in a statement.
While climate change groups have descended en masse on Paris, so have free market advocates who argue that climate change doomsday forecasts are unfounded and that reducing greenhouse gases will result in higher electricity costs and more poverty.
The free market Heartland Institute held Monday its “Day of Examining the Data” conference in Paris, featuring a video keynote address from Mr. Inhofe and panels with leading scientists skeptical of the global warming movement’s narrative.
The event also featured the “world premiere” of the film “Climate Hustle” by CFACT and Climate Depot’s Marc Morano.
“The film features scientists who used to be believers in the man-made global warming narrative and have now grown skeptical,” Mr. Morano last week told Fox News’ Sean Hannity.
The topic of Mr. Cruz’s subcommittee hearing is “Data or Dogma? Promoting Open Inquiry in the Debate Over the Magnitude of Human Impact on Earth’s Climate.”
Among the speakers are John Christy, professor at the University of Alabama at Huntsville, Judith Curry, professor at Georgia Institute of Technology, and Princeton professor William Happer.