Paris - COP21: President Barack Obama won standing applause at COP21 when he stated that parts of the global warming deal being negotiated in Paris should be legally binding on the countries that sign on. These are fighting words, reports the Associated Press, because it could set up a potential fight with Republicans at home.
My response to the AP news report is this: Does approval of the UN treaty by the U.S. Congress really matter any more? No. If the weight of public opinion is strong enough, "We the People" have the right to VOTE the nay-sayers out of office in Election 2016.
In addition, this is not the only time that the U.S. Congress has been resistant, or unwilling, to "do the right thing" when it comes to collaboration on a global scale. In 1995, the U.S. signed but Congress never ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. In its isolation, by refusing to ratify the treaty, it remains the ONLY country in the world that refuses to recognize the human rights of children.
In Paris, the focus will be on securing a global CLIMATE TREATY. Here are three reasons why I believe it will happen. 1.) President Barack Obama has made it his legacy project; 2.) More than 500 institutions representing over $3.4 trillion in assets have made some form of divestment commitment from fossil fuels; 3.) And, like it or not, on a world stage, actions by climate deniers in Congress are only a minor sideshow.
As the first accredited blogger for the UNFCCC (Bali-2007), I personally witnessed and wrote about the *obstructionist* role played by the U.S. under the Bush Administration. At the time, the U.S. demanded unusual high security measures and followed up with sweeps of conference rooms. The obstructionist attitude was called out by the United Nations representative from Papua New Guinea, who stood up to make his point. Unexpected applause from representatives at the BALI 2007 conference confirmed widespread agreement with his outspoken criticism.
His was an act which no one had dared to do before that moment. In a sense, it was historic. Soon, in Paris, I believe that a treaty will be signed and ratified, and this too will make history. Whether the U.S. Congress ratifies it is beside the point. Why?
Because, behavioral scientists strongly believe that what happens next will define the fate of 21st-Century Europe and Planet Earth. The spotlight will shift to one key, critical issue: the ability of citizens around the world to make a timely, necessary shift to renewable, alternative energy technologies - sustainability - and the required behavior changes that go with it.
These local, close to home actions will go hand in hand with the leadership of Indigenous Peoples around the world who already serve as role models of sustainable living and protection of Mother Earth. They will also reflect the technological leadership of global citizens such Bill Gates and Elon Musk. In the end it not the U.S. Congress that will decide the fate of the Earth, it is US.