Peter Wood notes an American attempt to insert a watering-down of developed-world commitments into one of the draft texts to, essentially, whatever the countries of the developed world feel like promising.
While it’s easy to be disgusted at this, as Peter notes, any international treaty relies upon the national parties ratifying it and acting upon it; in the case of the United States, any treaty has to be acceptable to two-thirds of their Senate. So, in essence, the US delegation has to argue the position of what the administration thinks it can get 67 votes for in that body.
So who is the 67th-most environmentally inclined US Senator?
This isn’t terribly scientific, but the League of Conservation Voters keeps a “scorecard” of how American congresspeople and senators vote on environmental bills. It’s a bit simplistic – they don’t rank bills in importance, nor do they analyze whether votes were actually meaningful – but indicative. If you follow US politics at all, the rankings aren’t terribly surprising, with mainstream Democrats and the odd blue-state Republican like Olympia Snowe getting good reports, coal-state Democrats (and Blanche Lincoln) a bit further down the list, and the bottom rankings dominated by Republicans from the Deep South and places like Utah. But there’s a group of Republican Senators who all get around the same environmental ratings, and you’d have to persuade at least some of them to vote for it to get 67 votes. A typical example is John Thune from South Dakota.
So what does Jon Thune think of actions to mitigate climate change? Not a lot:
On a conference call this Tuesday, however, I found Thune to be passionate — and quotable. For example, he dismissed the notion that Sen. Olympia Snowe of Maine might vote for health care reform, bluntly telling me he expects Republicans “will be united in opposition” to the Senate health care bill. “This will be and is a Democrat bill,” he predicted. Thune then went on to compare the Obama administration’s regulatory and climate change policies to “a war on the West.”
The vehemence seems to be at least partly red meat for a Republican primary audience, but, still, does this sound to you like somebody just itching to sign up to anything approaching the kind of deal that’s actually required to save the climate?
And that’s the kind of person Obama has to get to vote for any treaty that comes out of the Copenhagen process.