By Hugo Gurdon, Washington Examiner
It is not encouraging to see John Kerry returning from talks in China and suggesting he’s achieved some sort of climate change breakthrough. The last time he trumpeted success on an allied diplomatic mission, he was touting the 2016 Paris Agreement, in which he weakly acquiesced in hobbling United States interests in favor of our main global rival while doing nothing real to deal with the hyped problem with which the world was supposedly grappling.
If there was progress at all in Shanghai this month, it was entirely rhetorical. Beijing agreed to join Kerry in referring to climate change as a “crisis” to be “addressed with urgency.” The Chinese also lured him with the possibility of “enhancing” President Xi Jinping’s commitments on capping carbon emissions. “So the language is strong,” said President Joe Biden’s climate envoy.
Beijing is an infamously effective negotiator willing to say whatever is expedient, whether circumstances suggest emollient and smiling vagueness or stone-faced and precise recalcitrance. It chose the latter when sitting across the table from Secretary of State Antony Blinken in Alaska in March and the former with Kerry in Shanghai.
But either way, its modus operandi is to pocket any concessions it can extract from whichever hopeful interlocutor comes begging, then ratchet up its demands in exchange for more nonbinding promises. No one should be allowed anywhere near American diplomacy who believes China will decouple its climate policy from a determination to become the world’s dominant economic and strategic power.
Washington and Beijing now have something with which to preen their plumage on a video conference call that Biden has invited 40 world leaders to join this Earth Day, April 22. Their progress on rhetoric will fit the tenor of the event and of Earth Day itself, which, as usual, is all virtue-signaling, dishonesty, and hot air.
Just five days after Earth Day, however, Steven Koonin, who was chief scientist at former President Barack Obama’s Department of Energy, will publish a new book, titled Unsettled, which debunks both the alarmism and the vaporous prescriptions being discussed in what the White House calls “climate week.”
Koonin’s title directly challenges those who say climate change is “settled science.” To repeat, this is Obama’s climate scientist, and he is saying plainly that the science isn’t settled and that observed reality increasingly diverges from models on which left-wing governments such as Biden’s base their decisions to spend trillions of dollars of our money. Koonin’s book makes it obvious that the war being waged against fossil fuels by the coterie of green militants in the Biden administration is unjustified. Why? Because climate change isn’t as great a problem as the alarmist narrative claims and because today’s policy proposals wouldn’t fix it even if it were.
In the sense of fixing a baseball game, the Biden-Kerry policies will fix, rig, and stack the odds against Team America, which, absent such meddling, is best placed to lead and to win. Whereas former President Donald Trump declared a policy of energy dominance, then achieved it, Biden has instead chosen a policy of energy submission. The U.S. led the world in reducing carbon emissions by ramping up production and use of natural gas. Now, Biden and Kerry are bent weakening the U.S. and strengthening its enemies while doing nothing to reduce carbon emissions or alter the trajectory of climate change.
One of the few solid decisions to emerge from Shanghai, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal, was a bad one. It is an undertaking to end international financing of coal-fired electricity generation. This doubtless seems a dandy idea to right-thinking left-liberals, but it is immoral, sacrificing the poorest people in the world. The World Health Organization calculates that more than 400,000 Africans die unnecessarily each year because they don’t have electricity and must cook their food in their homes on fires of wood or animal dung. It’s the equivalent of burning 400 cigarettes an hour.
It is rich people, not poor people, who care about the environment. Allow development in underdeveloped countries, and the world will get to cleaner energy use sooner. Market forces and technological advances, not government fiat and international posturing, are what is needed. So don’t believe it when Biden and his administration boast that they’re on the side of the angels, as they will for the next four years — and especially this Earth Day.