The Glasgow climate summit and recent bold climate proposals are more about politics and do little to actually help the global environment.
The recent climate summit in Glasgow saw world leaders gather together to unanimously declare—as articulated by U.S. President Joe Biden himself—climate change as the “[paramount] challenge of our collective lifetimes.” Calling on the world community to devote themselves to confronting this “existential threat,” Biden cited his own administration’s lofty goal of reducing carbon emissions by at least 50 percent in the lead up to 2030.
“High energy prices only reinforce the urgent need to diversify sources, double down on clean energy development, and adapt promising new clean energy technologies.” This will ostensibly manifest through the type of long-term development envisioned in the massive infrastructure bill currently making its way through Congress.
As previously stated in this publication, the United States—as well as the developed economies of Western Europe—is hardly the primary cause of concern for those who would wish to see lower carbon emissions on a global scale. Substantial growth projected in greenhouse gas emissions is largely due to developing countries, such as India and China, which are poised to continue increasing their reliance on coal. The latter country has already set plans in motion to build increased capacity for the high carbon-emitting fuel, while the former currently sees about 70 percent of its electricity output derived from coal.
That does not mean that the United States needs to simply disregard its levels of carbon emissions. The U.S. still relies on dirtier forms of petroleum for 35 percent of its energy consumption, and coal for 10 percent. Prioritizing a transition to natural gas, in addition to the energy security made possible through independence from imports, would see real movement in measurable reductions to U.S. emissions. Instead, with the price of natural gas doubling in part due to the Biden administration’s policy choices, the use of coal has subsequently increased by 22 percent in 2021. Despite upending U.S. energy independence, the president apparently sees no irony in shamelessly asking for OPEC to increase production in an effort to reduce gas and oil prices.
The attempts of developed Western nations to subsidize policy that radically overhauls the energy landscape have a less than stellar record. Echoes of the Obama-era Solyndra scandal still reverberate in the energy industry. Germany’s attempt to heavily subsidize wind and solar in the 2010s led to a significant increase in burning coal, due to the inability of the former two to provide energy without interruption. Although the Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline may imply a more realpolitik approach in Berlin to ensuring a stable and clean source of fuel, coal burning still tops wind as the country’s primary source of electricity.
While U.S. renewable energy investment continued to rise by significant amounts throughout the Trump administration—despite claims that the former president heavily favored the oil and gas industries—frozen windmills in Texas this past winter, although not responsible for blackouts, displayed the danger of relying entirely on fickle renewables. The impact of the weather freezing the turbines led to a 60 percent drop in wind-energy production compared to the previous week.
These facts, however, are all irrelevant to those attempting to place climate as the central axiom around which to enact a new green-centric policy agenda. That is because their true goal is radical social reorganization based on equity-based notions of justice. The acolytes of transformational programs such as the Green New Deal are not interested in pragmatic, if gradual, steps that would allow the United States to practically and effectively become more energy efficient; rather, they are interested in recasting society according to ideological principles.
This is not the rambling of conspiracy theorists who envision an underground lair of technocratic elites laying the foundations for a one-world government—it is the words of the agenda’s own proponents. Vice President Kamala Harris, in collaboration with Green New Deal champion Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, last year introduced the Climate Equity Act (CEA) in the Senate, in order to “center [the fight against climate change] in justice and equity.” Equity, as aptly described by James Lindsay, is shifting resources and shares in a system so as to ensure that outcomes proportionally resemble the envisioned conception of fairness. The bill additionally called for the creation of an Office of Climate and Environmental Justice.
Harris’s cosponsoring of the CEA is not an aberration in an otherwise moderate climate policy; it is rather a testament to the Biden administration’s wholesale buy-in to the radical green agenda. The 46th president has additionally created the new Office of Domestic Climate Policy, headed by chief of staff Maggie Thomas who has previously stated that there is “no role for natural gas” in the nation’s energy mix, short-term or otherwise. Instead, she supports a goal of 90 percent of electricity production coming from renewables by the year 2035. Another new establishment under the Health and Human Services Department is the Office of Climate Change and Health Equity, tasked with the stated mission of “protecting vulnerable communities” from the impact of climate change. It is easy to see how these vaguely defined executive appointments not beholden to an electorate could morph into centralized authorities for enforcing a radical equity-based agenda—in fact, they would likely welcome the task in their mission statement.
During the Glasgow summit, President Biden additionally took it upon himself to apologize for the U.S. withdrawal from the Paris Climate Accords during the Trump administration. Trump had originally withdrawn from the pact under the auspices of its disadvantageous impact on U.S. industry. Citing a commitment to the American workers, Trump criticized the deal as resulting in “lost jobs, lowered wages, shuttered factories, and vastly diminished economic production.” Considering the achievement of (now eliminated) energy independence, the United States becoming a net exporter of oil in 2019 for the first time in its history, a continued growth in renewables, and all while still managing a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, one has to question how exactly participation in the Paris Accord was in the national interest of the United States.
The answer is that it wasn’t. It wasn’t even really advantageous to the interest of reducing global carbon emissions. As previously stated, if multilateral agreements such as the Paris Climate Accord actually wanted to invest resources in the areas which are most crucial to reducing carbon emissions—in other words, where they would receive the greatest return on investment—they would focus almost exclusively on the challenges posed by developing countries.
This, however, is not the concern of those who seek to overhaul the world economy and hamstring western industry along the way. Those interested in a recasting of society are not concerned with actual concrete steps that would practically allow the United States to approach reductions in carbon, as well as more energy efficient solutions, through innovation and ingenuity. They are also not interested in prioritizing energy security for American citizens.
At the summit, Prince Charles called for a “war-like footing” on the climate issue, proclaiming the need of a “Marshall-like plan.” Another Brit, much greater and deserving of our attention, previously stated that there are those who will seek to perpetuate a sense of crisis in times of peace, so as to justify the individual citizen’s subjugation to the state. “The argument…that economic crises are only another form of war, such that we must live our lives in a perpetual state of war…this, of course, is the socialist view.” These words were written by Winston Churchill in defense of the U.S. Constitution, as a response to (ironically) the big-government views of U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt.
According to Churchill, once the government found a seemingly just cause that it could utilize to incite the passions of its people, it would then be able to manipulate their desire to do good for its own purposes. After the individual is brought under the “subjugation of the executive government,” Churchill continued, “socialism…[allows] the rulers to demand of him in time of peace sacrifices only tolerable in a period of national self-preservation.”
Those who wish a radical overhaul of society—whether out of a genuine belief in the greater good, or from a selfish desire for power—have found an issue that allows them to invoke a sense of moral superiority. What higher duty is there than responsible stewardship of our natural home, the earth? We must be on our guard that our desire to live up to this task does not blind us to the schemes of those who would seek personal advantage from our good will.
Dominick Sansone writes on U.S. politics and culture. His work has been published at the Washington Examiner, the Federalist, and The American Conservative. Email him at [email protected].