President Joe Biden’s energy policy has centered upon a rapid transition toward renewable power and away from oil, gas, and coal. Beyond nixing expansions to the Keystone XL pipeline and slowing federal oil leases to a crawl, the commander-in-chief returned the United States to the Paris Climate Agreement — an international treaty signed in 2015 that calls for cutting worldwide emissions in half by 2030.
As the editorial board noted, China has increased its emissions by 11% from the signing of the Paris Agreement to last year, even as the United States cut its emissions by 6%. China nevertheless plans on building coal power plants “with a total capacity of at least 100 gigawatts” — enough energy to power 77 million homes.
“The reason for China’s coal boom is obvious,” the editorial board wrote. “The Communist Party’s priority is economic growth, higher living standards, and becoming the world’s leading power. Carbon emissions are an afterthought, and promises of future reductions are the compliment Chinese vice pays to Western virtue signalers.”
The editorial board was particularly critical of United States Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry, who has fruitlessly attempted to convince Chinese leaders to reduce emissions. One recent report from The Washington Free Beacon found that Kerry produced 9.5 million pounds of carbon — roughly 300 times the typical American’s carbon footprint — during official trips between March 2021 and July 2022.
Despite Kerry’s efforts, Chinese President Xi Jinping concluded that his nation cannot “be detached from reality” while pursuing carbon neutrality. “We can’t toss away what’s feeding us now while what will feed us next is still not in our pocket,” the official said, according to a report from the South China Morning Post.
Ignoring the fact that any reduction of American emissions are effectively undone by increases in China, as well as India and emerging economies in Africa, the Biden administration has poured billions into renewable energy. For instance, the Inflation Reduction Act — which contains $369 billion for climate initiatives — includes $7,500 tax credits for new electric vehicles.
“While the Biden administration does all it can to restrict U.S. fossil fuels, no matter the economic harm, Beijing is charging ahead with coal imports, coal mining and coal power to become the world’s leading economy,” the editorial board added. “They must marvel at their good fortune in having rivals who are so self-destructive.”
Indeed, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg signaled last week that he is “interested” in California’s gradual ban on new gas-powered cars — even though the state recently reminded citizens to avoid charging electric vehicles during certain times as the power grid faced heightened pressure. “We’ve got to make sure that this happens quickly enough to help us beat climate change,” Buttigieg said of potential nationwide standards.
Industry leaders such as Tesla CEO Elon Musk, however, are cautioning that a pivot to renewables will likely take decades. “Realistically I think we need to use oil and gas in the short term, because otherwise civilization will crumble,” the electric car entrepreneur told reporters last month. “One of the biggest challenges the world has ever faced is the transition to sustainable energy and to a sustainable economy. That will take some decades to complete.”