McConnell Is Telling Other Countries Not To Trust Obama’s Climate Plan


McConnell answers questions from reporters after the weekly Republican caucus luncheon at the U.S. Capitol in Washington

In an effort to undermine international negotiations aimed at combating climate change, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is telling other countries not to trust President Obama’s promise to significantly reduce the United States’ carbon emissions.

In a statement released Tuesday, McConnell warned other countries to “proceed with caution” before pledging any carbon emissions reductions to the United Nations, saying the U.S. would likely not be able to meet its own climate goals. The statement came shortly after Obama announced the official U.S. plan to slash the United States’ greenhouse gas emissions as much as 28 percent as part of an international agreement brokered by the U.N.

“Even if the job-killing and likely illegal Clean Power Plan were fully implemented, the United States could not meet the targets laid out in this proposed new plan,” McConnell said, adding that “[O]ur international partners should proceed with caution before entering into a binding, unattainable deal.”

The Majority Leader’s tactic is similar to a recent and slightly more aggressive effort by Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) to undermine international negotiations with Iran over its nuclear program. Earlier this month, Cotton and 46 other Republican senators wrote a letter to the Iranian government warning that it should not trust any deal it strikes with the United States and its international partners, saying that the deal likely would not last past the Obama administration.

“Mitch McConnell has evidently stolen Tom Cotton’s playbook for undermining American leadership in the face of international crises,” the Sierra Club’s director of climate programs John Coequyt said in a statement to the Hill.

This is not the first time McConnell has sought to prevent the United States’ efforts to fight climate change, a phenomenon which he refuses to say he accepts scientifically. Earlier this month, McConnell told individual states to openly defy the EPA’s proposed rules limiting greenhouse gas emissions from power plants.

As McConnell represents Kentucky, a coal-producing state, regulations to reduce emissions from coal have been personal for the Majority Leader. In January, when he took control of the Senate, he said he felt “deep responsibility” to stop climate regulation on coal, which has the highest carbon content of all fossil fuels and accounts for nearly a quarter of all U.S. carbon emissions.


Reprinted with permission from Climate Progress, a branch of The Center for American Progress