State Department legal team analyzed Law of the Sea treaty and found there was nothing in treaty that would force U.S. policy on climate change
But some, like Sen. James Risch (R-ID), have posited that ratification would compromise our sovereignty by forcing the United States to abide by other treaties and impose overly restrictive environmental regulations. Insinuating that ratification of Law of the Sea could force the United States to join other international agreements on climate change or other environmental protections, Sen. Risch told Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at a Foreign Relations Committee hearing last month that the Law of the Sea treaty had “Kyoto written all over it,” a reference to the Kyoto Protocol, the international agreement linked to the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change. In response, Secretary Clinton cited the State Department legal team, saying, “there is nothing in the [Law of the Sea Convention] that commits the United States to implement any commitments on greenhouse gases under any regime, and it contains no obligation to implement any particular climate change policies.” While Sen. Risch and his allies would likely disagree with such claims, they cannot deny that diplomats such as Secretary Clinton are the very people who would establish the U.S. position. So whose opinion should carry more weight: protectionist fear mongers or actual diplomats and policymakers?
Opponents argue that UNCLOS's provisions calling for states to reduce pollution through "best practicable means" could be used as a "backdoor" to force environmental treaties on the U.S. However, legal scholars and State Department officials have concluded that the convention only binds the United States to act in accordance with its own laws or appropriately ratified international agreements and cannot be used as a “back door” to compel enforcement of international agreements the Senate has not ratified.