Julian Ku, the Maurice A. Deane Distinguished Professor of Constitutional Law, is quoted in the Washington Times article “Obama’s bold climate change policies may end with his term.” The article, which ran online on November 27, 2014, was written by Ben Wolfgang, who covers the White House for the newspaper.
The article questions whether the recent climate deal with China is legally binding and whether the president elected in 2016 would be compelled to adhere to it. Wolfgang postulates that the agreement “almost surely would be scrapped by a Republican president …, and with Republicans poised to take over the Senate, there is virtually no chance the White House can codify those priorities through legislation.”
Professor Ku, an expert in the enforceability of international agreements under U.S. law, says that Obama is “kind of marketing this as a bigger commitment than it really is. The Chinese understand that it’s a weak commitment — it’s the weakest commitment he can make under our system.”
He adds, “It has a life beyond his presidency, it’s a political pledge. This kind of promise he’s made is the weakest kind of promise he can make. The next president certainly could say, ‘I no longer adhere to the promise we made to you, China.’”