April 22, 2021/ Francis Menton
Once again, it’s Earth Day. The first such day was 51 years ago, April 22, 1970.
Since that first one, Earth Day has served as an annual opportunity for sanctimonious socialist-minded apocalypticists to issue prophesies of imminent environmental doom. Here from the Competitive Enterprise Institute is a great list of some 50 or so such predictions uttered since the late 1960s, all of which have since been proven wrong. Interestingly, the ones from the time of the first Earth Day mostly concerned overpopulation, famine, and global cooling. Today, those things seem ever so quaint.
Somewhere along the line, the prophesy of a coming ice age faded away, and global warming surged forth as the much more fashionable doomsday prediction. Today, fealty to the global warming apocalypse orthodoxy is a prerequisite for admission to polite society. Our President goes around repeating the mantra that climate change is an “existential threat,” even as he signs Executive Orders and re-directs half the energies of the vast federal government to fight it.
And what better opportunity than the annual return of Earth Day for our great leaders to demonstrate their deep climate change sincerity? Thus last week we had President Biden’s personal climate emissary to the world, John Kerry, traveling to Shanghai to triumphantly welcome China on board with the official plan to “save the planet” through ending the use of fossil fuels; and today, Biden himself has followed up with his Earth Day Climate Summit, a virtual event said to be attended by leaders of some 40 or so nations, including the likes of China, India and Russia. Surely, things have now completely changed course since the evil Trump has been banished, and the world will shortly be saved by the re-invigoration of the glorious Paris Climate Agreement.
The problem of course is that China, Russia, India, and for that matter all the rest of the developing countries, don’t care a whit about the whole climate change thing, and they also know that the Paris Agreement is a total scam. For a developing country, the basic strategy reflected in Paris is to hit up the U.S. and Europe for a lot of money, while simultaneously getting the more developed countries to cripple their own economies even as you yourself commit to absolutely nothing.
China, Russia and India each have their own unique approaches to executing this strategy, but in general Russia and India have been relatively up front in just saying that they aren’t going along with fossil fuel restrictions for themselves. China has stood out for being completely cynical and Machiavellian in how it has taken advantage of, and indeed humiliated, the incredibly unintelligent individuals, Biden and Kerry, who are supposedly leading the United States in its efforts.
It was only a few weeks ago, in March, that senior diplomats of the U.S. and China met in Alaska. The U.S. delegation briefly mentioned the subject of the genocide of the Uighur minority currently going on in Western China; and the Chinese delegation then took the opportunity to dress down the Americans for about 20 minutes for the U.S.’s own supposedly-comparable human rights derelictions. The Biden-appointed U.S. team members, all emanating from the guilt-ridden, America-hating progressive movement, were caught speechless. They don’t have the vaguest idea how to stand up for their own country, or even why they should.
Immediately after that, John Kerry picks up and goes to China, all happy-happy because he is supposedly going to get the Chinese to sacrifice and restrict their economy in the name of fighting climate change. This guy goes way beyond dumb, and all the way to completely delusional. He must know (mustn’t he?) that China is far and away the world’s largest emitter of “greenhouse gases,” now running at a rate just about double that of the U.S. He must also know (mustn’t he?) that under the Paris Agreement China has made no commitment at all to reduce emissions, but only has promised to “peak” its emissions by 2030, reserving the right to increase emissions as much as it wants until then. But does he know that China currently has some 250 GW of yet additional coal-fired power plants under development — which is more than the entire existing U.S. fleet of coal-fired power plants? These Chinese plants are all going to get built over the next few years, and then will be around for many decades to come. And then there are the hundreds of other coal plants that China is planning or building for other countries around the world. In the face of all this, even before the trip, according to the South China Morning Post on April 17, “Kerry and other Biden administration officials have said that it is vital to work on climate with China.” Nothing like starting a negotiation from a position of strength.
And so last week Kerry got exactly the treatment in China that you would expect. In short, the Chinese gave him the scorn and contempt that he deserves. As usual, China made no specific promises whatsoever on reducing its own emissions, and took the opportunity to lecture Kerry on the U.S. fulfilling its commitments. Chinese Vice-Premier Han Zheng had this to say (from the SCMP):
“China welcomes the US return to the Paris agreement, and expects the US side to uphold the agreement, shoulder its due responsibilities and make due contributions.”
And from China’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying:
“[The U.S.] return [to the Paris Agreement] is by no means a glorious comeback but rather a truant getting back to class,” Hua said of the United States. She pressed the United States to “offer how it will make up for the lost four years”, including payments to the UN-backed Green Climate Fund, which provides support to developing countries worst hit by climate change.
Which brings us to President Biden’s Climate Summit today. You may know that the previous “commitment” made by President Obama under the Paris Climate Agreement was that the U.S. would reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 26 to 28% from the level of 2005, and do so by 2025. (I put the word “commitment” in quotes because the Paris Agreement was never submitted to the Senate for ratification as a Treaty, and therefore was never binding on the United States.). Anyway, Biden today, with absolutely nothing in hand from China after Kerry’s failed mission last week, nevertheless proceeded essentially to double the U.S. promise to cut emissions. From the New York Times today:
In a show of renewed resolve after four years of the Trump administration’s unvarnished climate denial, Mr. Biden formally pledged that the United States would cut its emissions at least in half from 2005 levels by 2030.
And how about handing out some tens or hundreds of billions of the infinite free U.S. taxpayer cash to every third world kleptocrat?
[The Biden] administration also announced it intends to double by 2024 the amount of money it offers to help developing countries, compared with what the United States spent annually in the second half of the Obama administration.
Estimates are that U.S. annual greenhouse gas emissions are currently running about 15% below the 2005 level, with the reduction almost entire due to the fracking revolution — and having next-to-nothing to do with increasing amounts of wind and solar energy, which are insignificant. But that leaves about 35% to go from the 2005 level to get to Biden’s newly-announced goal. You can be sure that Biden himself has absolutely no idea how this might be accomplished. And indeed it will not be accomplished. However, Biden promises to do enormous damage to the U.S. economy in the futile effort.
Xi, meanwhile, is rubbing his hands with glee at the stupidity of the U.S. leaders. He pockets each successive U.S. promise to destroy its own economy, and then responds with empty words and no specific commitments at all from his own side. Xi actually showed up at Biden’s summit today. Here is what he had to say, as quoted in the New York Times:
President Xi Jinping of China said his country would “strictly limit increasing coal consumption” in the next five years and phase it down in the following five years. . . . Mr. Xi repeated his pledge from last year to draw down carbon emissions to net zero by 2060. And, in a pointed reminder to his host, President Biden, he said that the industrialized countries of the West had a historic responsibility to act faster to reduce emissions.
I love that part about “strictly limit[ing]” coal consumption. With 250 GW of new coal power plants in development, what does that even mean? I guess that building more new coal plants than the U.S. even has is now a “strict limit.” China’s emissions, already far the largest in the world, will continue to increase rapidly, without any sort of quantitative promise to do otherwise. Oh, there is that mention of “net zero” emissions by 2060. Xi must have some sort of scam of purchased credits in mind. But don’t worry, he is already almost 68 and knows that he will be dead long before 2060. So will most everyone else who attended this summit. Nobody will be around to remember this meaningless statement.