How Biden’s Return To The Paris Climate Accord Benefits Beijing
As part of his $2 trillion “Equitable Clean Energy Future” agenda, President Biden has pledged to recommit America to the Paris Climate Agreement (drafted in 2015, signed in 2016), which proposes to eliminate carbon emissions from electricity by 2035 and shift from oil, natural gas, and coal to achieve “net-zero carbon” emissions by 2050.
This would occur as China and India which have represented 80% of the emission increases and are not bound to the pact, are dramatically ramping up coal and oil development.
Although Beijing agreed to peak its emissions by 2030, they have a pass to do nothing to stem the growth of CO2 emission growth during the 15 years leading up to that deadline.
Meanwhile, China’s coal consumption has continued to increase in line with a rise in overall energy demand following a 2014-2016 “permitting surge” by local governments aiming to boost growth.
When President Xi Jinping announced in September of 2019 that China would be carbon-neutral, he generously gave coal a four-decade-long “transition period.”
China, the world’s largest CO2 emitter, had raised its coal-fired capacity by 42.9 gigawatts (GW), or about 4.5% in the 18 months leading up to June 2019.
As of that time, China also had another 121.3 GW of coal-fired plants under construction, nearly enough to power the whole of France while coal-fired power capacity fell 8.1 GW in the rest of the world over the same period.
Additionally, Reuters has reported that China is building about a dozen coal power plants in Pakistan.
Similarly, in a half-hearted commitment, India pledged to peak its emissions sometime around the middle of the century … although its actual plan announced in 2019 is to double its domestic coal production over the next five years, and will continue to use fossil fuels for electricity generation.
The Paris Agreement doesn’t specify how much each country must reduce its own emissions or what timeline they should use. Rather, it just asks them to set a target in line with a goal.
Then when they meet it, they are to set a more ambitious one.
But despite countries setting their own objectives, the majority of the 184 signers are failing to achieve them.
Of all EU signatories to the Paris Climate Treaty, not one of them is meeting their current goals for 2030 emissions reduction.
Only five of them — Luxembourg, Netherlands, France, Portugal, and Sweden — are even at 50% of their targets. The rest are all trailing behind.
Germany, which despite leading much of the charge for “renewable energy” remains stalled at roughly their 2009 emission level as Europe’s biggest consumer of coal which generates more than one-third of its power supply.
Although Germany stopped all black coal mining in 2018, it continues to import coal from other countries to run its power plants. The country also operates a significant number of mines that extract lignite, a soft form of coal that’s also burned to generate electricity.
Remarkably, the country that did most to reduce its emissions is one that never signed the Paris pact. Thanks to a remarkable oil and natural gas fracking revolution, in 2019 America led the entire world in reducing CO2 emissions.
According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), “U.S. emissions are now down almost 1 Gt from their peak in the year 2000, the largest absolute decline by any country over that period.”
Under President Trump’s leadership, America has also become the leading oil and natural gas exporter — globally, ahead of Saudi Arabia and Russia, something that could never have been imagined as recently as 2008 when the U.S. was the world’s largest importer.
President Biden’s return to the Obama administration’s anti-hydrocarbon energy policy years as exemplified by joining the Paris Climate Agreement will predictably reverse that enormous inherited good fortune.
In short, the Biden agenda will terminate an energy resource revolution that has stimulated over $200 billion of investment in new factories, generated millions of jobs, produced vital federal and state revenues, reduced the trade deficit by several hundred billion dollars, and expanded America’s policy flexibility and influence regarding foreign adversaries and allies alike.
Although the biggest export beneficiaries would be Saudi Arabia and Russia, China stands to gain the most.
While China has a robust oil industry — in fact, the world’s fifth-largest — its output falls far short of what it needs to fuel the globe’s second-largest economy. As a result, the country is also by far the world’s largest oil importer (75% of its petroleum consumption).
Beijing recognizes this import dependence as a major strategic weakness in dealing with assured oil import supply chains, territorial conflicts, and economic competition involving the U.S.
President Trump wisely withdrew the U.S. from the Paris pact and President Obama’s commitments which included a pledge of $3 billion from American taxpayers to the U.N.’s Green Climate Fund by 2020 along with having developed countries eventually pay $100 billion annually to developing countries to ambiguously “mitigate climate change.”
In reality, the U.S. had never actually signed on to the agreement — which would have required Senate treaty ratification — something that wouldn’t previously have happened.
The Paris “agreement” was actually a non-treaty in any case since each nation set its own emission goals with no penalties.
Nevertheless, the Obama-Biden administration worked assiduously to achieve its anti-fossil-fuel agenda through executive orders and industry regulations promulgated through EPA.
While they succeeded in decimating the U.S. coal industry, the Supreme Court effectively killed the EPA’s Clean Power Plan (CPP) — the centerpiece of the U.S. commitment to the Paris Agreement.
Under EPA chief Gina McCarthy, the Obama-Biden CPP plan had proposed to install the equivalent electricity of 270,000 wind turbines (three times the total global installed capacity), or 750 GW of solar power (125 times the installed capacity globally.)
CPP’s central purpose, however, was to put the coal industry out of business using EPA’s mercury rule. Although the Supreme Court blocked it, by that time EPA administrator McCarthy was chuckling to the media that the damage to the coal industry was already done.
It had cost the industry 94% of its market value and 40% of coal mining jobs between 2009 and 2016.
McCarthy has now been nominated to serve as a Cabinet-level Biden administration “climate czar” who will be responsible for coordinating climate actions across numerous agencies and Congress.
Beijing’s energy oligarchs must be beaming with gratitude.
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