Talk is cheap; the familiar saying goes – especially from dictatorial nations about climate change.
The United States “Special Envoy” on climate, John Forbes Kerry of Martha’s Vineyard, met virtually yesterday with his Chinese counterpart, Xie Zhenhua, the head of China’s environmental protection ministry, and more than 30 other nations’ representatives at the Ministerial on Climate Action summit. This annual event is set to monitor implementation of the Paris Climate Accord.
For government careerists like Mr. Kerry, multilateral meetings are always sold as progress, even as real world actions tell the opposite story.
Last fall, China’s dictator, Xi Jingping, said his nation would achieve carbon neutrality by 2060 – about forty years away. This is one of many indicators that China is unserious about climate change, regardless of its verbal “goals” and platitudes. Rather, China’s ambition is to surpass the United States to become the most powerful and wealthiest nation on the planet. More solar and wind energy won’t get the Middle Kingdom to regional and global supremacy.
Before the meeting, Mr. Kerry urged the “kumbaya” approach to diplomacy by stressing the need to “join hands in a cooperative journey” for a cleaner climate and not “point fingers.” At yesterday’s Climate Action meeting, the U.S. and China agreed to form a “joint working group” on climate change. Swell.
Can Mr. Kerry be this credulous? How many more coal-fired power plants must China build at home and abroad before U.S. diplomats figure out they are being played?
John Kerry, who reflects President Biden and Vice President Harris, is exactly who China wants sitting across the diplomatic table as it pursues great power competition. He has a history of being a useful idiot for America’s adversaries. When he was Secretary of State for President Obama, Kerry negotiated the one-sided Iran nuclear deal, which gave that terrorist nation everything it demanded, including crates of cash secretly transported in a cargo plane for use by its terrorist proxies.
Messrs. Obama and Kerry were similarly obsequious toward China, desperate for it to sign the Paris Accord. China “signed” on the condition that nothing was required; hence, China is not mandated to reduce carbon emissions before 2030.
Paper-thin diplomatic agreements with America’s adversaries have not changed the facts on the ground, and new climate diplomacy being pursued this week by the Biden administration will have the same non-impact on China’s real objectives.
Rather than climate change becoming an issue of “cooperation” between China and the U.S., the Chinese will continue to exploit climate issues as a means to compete with and surpass the U.S. in technological, economic, and military dominance.
Energy is the lifeblood of a nation’s economy and of global power politics. China’s diplomatic pledges on climate are a means to coax the U.S. to continue surrendering its energy and economic advantages, without impeding the expansion of its own fossil fuel capacity.
While the Biden administration closes off domestic energy production, including shutting down the Keystone XL Pipeline, and bars new energy leases on federal lands, China continues to construct coal-fired power plants to support its economic growth and military expansion. As discussed by Mark Mathis of the Clean Energy Alliance, China has at least 200 gigawatts of coal-powered plants in development, which will add to its more than 2,300 plants in operation.
Coal is a cheap way for China to increase its industrial and manufacturing capacity, and build alliances with other nations. Coal produces more electricity in China than exists in the U.S. from all sources. Meanwhile, the U.S. has been steadily closing coal plants to the point of soon having fewer than 200 nationwide. All this puts the U.S. at a greater competitive disadvantage as more manufacturing jobs shift to China.
While the Biden administration urges international institutions and banks to refuse financing of needed fossil fuel projects in the developing world, China is delivering investment to more nations, including building coal-fired plants in Africa and other Asian countries. For every pointless executive order by President Biden to reduce fossil fuel development, China is expanding the same by a much greater amount.
China also is continuing extensive mining domestically and abroad for essential minerals such as lithium, cobalt, copper and nickel. That means greater dependence by the U.S. on China for “renewable” energy materials, including for wind turbines, solar panels and electric vehicle batteries. Biden’s hollow promise of “Green jobs” will end up more in China, not here.
Like the Soviet Union’s bad faith during the Cold War, China’s diplomatic niceties on climate amount to vacuous commitments to reduce emissions. China’s fake diplomacy also is belied by its actions to expand readily accessible fossil fuel energy to increase its economic and military power worldwide.
President Biden and John Kerry need to understand we are in a new Cold War and should shelve their obsession with carbon emissions in the futile hope that curtailment might cool the planet by a degree Celsius in the next 30 years. China is having none of it, no matter how many climate meetings it attends.
As we move through 2023 and into the next election cycle, The Prickly Pear will resume Take Action recommendations and information.