The Chinese regime has received widespread praise for its purported ability to make progress on climate change issues, but it actually pursues energy policies that benefit itself without regard for the environment. Meanwhile, the United States has failed to adopt energy policies that serve its best interests.
That’s according to Marc Morano, executive director of ClimateDepot.com, a project of the Washington-based think tank Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow.
Morano described what he sees as a double standard whereby climate activists and political leaders welcome China into a global campaign for cleaner energy and sustainable economies, and are so gratified at Beijing’s nominal participation that they turn a blind eye to what is really going on.
“China is given a complete pass on their human rights violations and their climate sins, if you will, all because people want China to be part of the process. And China is also relentlessly praised by the Biden administration, and by climate activists,” Morano told EpochTV’s “China Insider” program at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Orlando, Florida, on Feb. 26.
Morano said that numerous voices across the media, political, and diplomatic realms have spoken out in praise of China because of the autocratic regime’s supposed effectiveness at bringing about change in areas where democratic nations have lagged for so many years.
“The interesting thing about China is that you can go back decades, and United Nations climate chief Christiana Figueres has praised China’s one-party rule for, essentially, getting things done, [Canadian Prime Minister] Justin Trudeau praised China’s one-party rule because it could get things done on investments in solar energy, and you have many other prominent figures in the climate movement who have used China as a model,” Morano said.
Climate advocates have tended toward flights of rhetoric about China’s ability to surpass Western nations in the implementation of clean energy alternatives such as wind and solar, but in Morano’s view the reality behind the rhetoric is far more complex.
He pointed out that Chinese enterprises are constructing one coal plant per week and that China currently accounts for 50 percent of the world’s coal production. At the time that China became a signatory to the Paris Agreement on climate change passed in December 2015, the prevailing expectation was that Chinese industry would soon reach its peak emissions. At that point, observers expected industry in China to make use of evolving technologies to curb its reliance on coal and then emissions would level off, in much the way that emissions of American industry eventually did during the industrialization of the United States. But such expectations have proven wrong, Morano said.
Despite the rhetoric about leading the way on climate change, economic self-interest, rather than environmental considerations, drive the actions of Chinese industries, he argued.
“They’re doing what’s best for their country, but they have showmanship on climate issues. So they’re promoting what they’re doing with regard to solar and windmills, and some estimates are that the U.S. buys 90 percent of our solar panels from China,” Morano said. “What’s interesting is that in China itself, there have been many reports that cities have abandoned solar panels and that windmills that haven’t been working are rusting away.”
US Energy Policies
In Morano’s view, rhetoric about China’s commitments to the Paris Agreement is just PR intended to make China look good to the West. At the same time, the green energy movement has driven the U.S. commitment to clean energy under the Biden administration, and has, in the end, made America less competitive and exacerbated energy costs for ordinary citizens.
In 2020, energy production and consumption in the United States soared and exports surpassed imports for the first time since 1952, when Harry Truman was president, noted Morano, who does not see fossil fuel production and high air and water quality as mutually exclusive. In fact, air and water quality have improved “radically” in the United States since 1970, Morano said, and the World Health Organization has ranked the country as one of the top seven nations in the world for air cleanliness.
But the Biden administration’s energy policies, he said, have taken the country in a new direction, as evidenced by the president’s decision to terminate the Keystone XL pipeline. Such actions have undermined America’s competitive edge vis à vis China and other rivals.
“This is where we were in 2020. Then we gave all that up. And President Biden comes in and shuts Keystone down, and has the Treasury Department starts defunding fossil fuel projects and environmental social governance,” Morano said.
As a consequence, prices have skyrocketed in an energy market highly susceptible to such shifts, and Americans have ended up paying more in energy costs per month than before, Morano said. In New York City alone, the Consumer Price Index reported its highest-ever monthly increase—28.2 percent—in electricity prices in January.
A concurrent phenomenon is a growing U.S. dependence on China for cobalt mining and on other places with problematic human rights records, such as the Congo.
“All we’re doing is getting more and more reliant on China for these rare earth minerals, and also on Russia for their rare earth mining. They have big supplies of nickel,” Morano said.
“It’s just bonkers from a strategic and national security point of view for Europe, Canada, and the United States to actually start shutting down our energy and then play by some ‘Green New Deal’ rules when OPEC, Iran, Russia, and China have zero intention of playing by the same rules,” he added.