The plot will be big, ambitious targets for emissions reductions and a renewal of US “credibility” after President Donald Trump allegedly destroyed it by withdrawing from the Paris Climate Accords.
Biden is expected to announce a commitment to cut US emissions in half by 2030 from 2005.
This is welcomed by Huzzahs of elite influencers, but this commitment and entire effort is misjudged.
A key theory driving this is that if the US cuts its emissions, so will everyone else in the world to keep the earth as we know it.
But even well-intentioned countries can miss their climate targets or manipulate whatever they say. And not all countries are well-intentioned.
Think of China, which the Biden government was dying to have on board. Amazingly, Climate Envoy John Kerry was the first Biden official to visit China, signaling that climate change is more important to the government than China’s threatening behavior towards Taiwan, its aggression in the South China Sea, its suppression of the Uyghurs, its predatory trade Intellectual property practices or theft.
Kerry was berated by the Chinese for fighting climate change “with the seriousness and urgency that he called for”.
This is a great coup, just not in the way Kerry imagines it to be. Every time we inflate China as a partner for the climate, we feed the ridiculous pretext that President Xi desperately wants to create, that China is a good global citizen, largely concerned with the well-being of the planet.
It is highly doubtful that China will have the highest emissions by 2030 or zero by 2060, its latest promise. Beijing is putting a huge number of coal-fired power plants into operation. Regardless, it is not clear how high the Chinese emission peak will be or what the trajectory will be after it reaches it.
And who will hold China accountable for its climate protection commitments and how exactly?
If the Chinese fail to keep their promise by 2030, by what time we may have waged a heated war with China over Taiwan and lost, then what will we do to punish or correct them? If we can’t get them to end the genocide in Xinjiang Province today, will we really get them over the excess emissions in nearly a decade?
Other than that, the US pledge itself isn’t very credible. Would it really survive the emergence of a Republican Congress, possibly next year? 2030 is two years after the end of Biden’s second term. Politically, it’s an eon from now and no one can say what crises may have emerged to overwhelm the current obsession with climate change.
Also, trying to achieve the goal will be detrimental to the economy. It is undeniable that alternative energy sources are more expensive than fossil fuels and drive up costs. Both Germany and California, which have made major wind and solar commitments, have demonstrated this fact at length. There is no way of making wind and sun competitive with conventional energy. Subsidies only mask the higher costs, and new “green energy jobs” cannot compensate for the disadvantageous macroeconomic employment effects of higher energy costs.
The cost-benefit calculation does not make sense either. As Benjamin Zycher of the American Enterprise Institute notes, that is Result of the Paris climate agreement would have been a reduction in global temperature of 0.17 degrees Celsius by 2100, based on calculations using the EPA’s climate model.
To do more than just nibble on the fringes of climate change, economic activities would need to be curtailed in order to be considered. The point was made clear by the pandemic which, by bringing the economies to a virtual standstill in the advanced world, resulted in unprecedented reductions in carbon emissions. Now that things are back to normal, CO2 emissions are recovering intelligently.
Because of this, the virtual climate summit at the end of the day is showered with media excitement and self-congratulations, but little is achieved other than making energy more expensive.