China’s approach to international energy and environmental policy can be summed up very simply: tell the idiot gwai lo whatever they want to hear – then carry on doing what China wants, regardless.
Fortunately for the prospects of the US economy, it would appear that not every US politician has fallen for the risible line, heavily promoted by the Obama administration and its amen corner in the environmental movement, that China cares every bit as much as the West does about the allegedly urgent need to curb global CO2 emissions.
Two who very much haven’t are Republican senators Roy Blunt (Missouri) and Jim Inhofe (Oklahoma) who have just launched a challenge to the bilateral climate change “agreement” reached by President Obama with China last year, whereby both countries have supposedly made a commitment to reducing their “greenhouse gas” emissions.
Under this “agreement”, the US will cut its emissions by 26 per cent by 2025 while China will increase its “non-fossil-fuel share of energy to around 20 per cent” by 2030.
Perhaps the most important thing to be noted about this “agreement” is that it was never an “agreement.”
An “agreement” in diplomacy-speak is legally or politically binding.
That is why both negotiating parties took care in the finished document never to use that word. Instead they chose the much vaguer word “announcement”, which places neither party under any obligation whatsoever. If China chooses completely to ignore its supposed commitment to reducing its CO2 emissions it is free to do so – not least because the “announcement” makes no provisions for outside inspectors to come and check up on its progress.
But you would never guess this from the antics of the Obama administration which is determinedly proceeding as if the “announcement” were an “agreement” which has been cast in stone and which genuinely binds the US to its 26 per cent emissions reductions target by 2025.
While a portion of this target may be achieved by efficiency savings and by the transition from CO2-intensive coal to less CO2-intensive shale gas, this will still create an estimated eight to 11 per cent gap. To fill it, it will be necessary to impose stringent new greenhouse gas legislation on energy intensive industries which – according to a NERA Economic Consulting Analysis – would represent “the most expensive environmental regulation ever imposed on electric utilities.”
In short, if the Obama administration gets its way, the US economy is going to be swamped by a tsunami of new eco-regulations which will not only be extremely expensive and inconvenient to industry and consumers but will result in no discernible environmental benefit whatsoever.
To understand why the proposed legislation is so pointless, you only have to look at the International Energy Agency’s forecasts for global CO2 emission changes from 2005 to 2030 (see here). Fully 50 per cent of the growth in CO2 emissions in that period will come from China. By 2030, China will be producing more CO2 than Japan, the US and the EU combined. In this context, America’s carbon reductions emission targets can properly seen for the meaningless gesture politics they really are.
So Senators Blunt and Inhofe are absolutely right to challenge this plan by proposing a budget amendment that would “establish a spending-neutral reserve fund relating to requiring the advice and consent of the Senate before any bilateral or international agreement regarding greenhouse gas emissions aimed at combating global climate change has any force or effect within the United States.”
As too are House Republicans Ed Whitfield and Fred Upton, with their draft bill to allow state governors veto the EPA’s plans.
And there is, as this ACCF policy research special report notes, a good deal of further legal trouble ahead for Obama and his eco-Dobbies at the Environmental Protection Agency.
The Supreme Court fired a potential warning shot at EPA last year in its 2014 Utility Air Regulatory Group v EPA decision. The Supreme Court noted that: “When an agency claims to discover in a long-extant statute an unheralded power to regulate ‘a significant portion of the American economy’…we typically greet its announcement with a measure of skepticism.”As Harvard law professor Laurence Tribe, a supporter of controls on CO2, has argued, the EPA proposal is legally vulnerable on a number of fronts. He wrote, “[T]he EPA, like every administrative agency, is constitutionally forbidden to exercise powers Congress never delegated to it in the first place. The brute fact is that the Obama administration failed to get climate legislation through Congress. Yet the EPA is acting as though it has the legislative authority anyway to re-engineer the nation’s electric generating system and power grid. It does not.
He is not alone in his concerns. In comments on EPA’s proposed rule, 32 U.S. states challenged its legality. Faced with litigation challenges, it is more likely than not that U.S. Courts will reject at least part of the EPA regulatory agenda related to new and existing power plants – placing at risk a significant portion of the U.S. reduction goal.
But don’t expect to find any of these nuances reported in the mainstream media. As with almost anything to do with climate change, this isn’t about facts but about spin, propaganda, crony capitalism, vested interests and smear.
Note, in the coming months, how often last year’s US-China “announcement” will be falsely described in the MSM as an “agreement” (with the implication that it is legally binding and also that it was a triumph of diplomacy by Obama whose principled example has persuaded China to do the right thing); and also, how often, Republican politicians opposing the new measures will be described as “anti-science” or, as “skeptical” of climate change.
What won’t get mentioned is that whether you believe in Catastrophic Man Made Warming or whether you don’t is a sublime irrelevance to this particular issue. Obama’s proposed carbon emissions reductions are the result of an “agreement” which turns out to be a lie and which will, if implemented, cause massive damage to the US economy to no useful purpose whatsover.
And yes, it really is that simple.