Hayward: Two GOP Debaters Make the Connection Between China and ‘Green Energy’

Doug Burgum and Nikki Haley at first GOP Presidential Debate, August 23, 2023
KAMIL KRZACZYNSKI/AFP via Getty; Al Drago/Bloomberg via Getty

The first Republican primary debate on Wednesday night included exchanges with North Dakota governor Doug Burgum and former South Carolina governor Nikki Haley that were more illuminating on the subject of China policy than the actual China segment of the debate.

Burgum and Haley both made the point that President Joe Biden’s big-spending “green energy” policies are putting huge amounts of money in the pockets of China, the world’s greatest menace to freedom and the world’s worst polluter.

“We can’t just talk about the Biden economy, because the economy, energy, and national security are all tied together,” Burgum said when the moderators asked a question about economic policy.

“Of course, we’re paying too much for energy in our country right now. Part of the reason why is because of the Biden policies on energy,” he said.

“We’ve got a plan right now, the $1.2 trillion dollars of Green New Deal spending buried in the Inflation Creation Act, is something that’s just subsidizing China. If we’re going to stop buying oil from the Middle East and start buying batteries from China, we’re just trading OPEC for Sinopec,” he pointed out.

The “Inflation Creation Act” was actually called the Inflation Reduction Act, although Burgum’s name is more accurate. If Burgum used that name deliberately, rather than making a slip of the tongue, he is truly a master of deadpan comedy.

Sinopec is a shorter name for the China Petroleum and Chemical Corporation, China’s massive state-run oil and gas company. Sinopec, like the rest of the Chinese Communist Party apparatus, loves to talk about “green energy” while digging up titanic mountains of coal and pumping oceans of gas to feed Chinese industry. 

As Burgum went on to observe, China’s rapacious appetite for coal power has only increased over the years in which Western nations agonized about global warming and pumped trillions of dollars into far less effective “green energy” technologies like wind and solar. Even some environmentalist organizations that usually give non-Western countries a free pass on carbon emissions have begun grumbling that Beijing’s actions are very different from what its representatives say at jet-setting climate conferences.

Burgum noted that Western sanctions on Russian oil after the invasion of Ukraine had the unintended consequence of making vast amounts of fossil fuel available at discount prices to eager buyers like China and India, although he focused on China. India’s purchases of Russian oil hit record highs this summer, and India now gets more oil from Russia than from its next four biggest suppliers combined.

“Well, we put sanctions on Russian oil, well then it’s 20 percent off. Who’s buying it? China. If you buy a battery in this country, if you buy a solar panel, it’s being produced in a plant in China powered by coal, where it’s being powered by oil and gas at 20 percent off,” Burgum said.

“Every farmer in this country would like to buy diesel at 20 percent off, just like they’re buying it in China,” he lamented.

Burgum was correct that manufacturing solar panels and windmills emits huge amounts of carbon – according to some studies, enough to completely neutralize any advantage in “greenhouse gas emissions” those technologies might offer. 

Burgum was also correct that China uses large amounts of coal, oil, and gas power to manufacture solar panels. The International Energy Agency (IEA) has confirmed this, grumbling that the green energy manufacturing industry is not very “green” itself, in large part because high-polluting China controls such a huge share of the market.

Haley made similar points when she said, “If you want to go and really change the environment, then we need to start telling China and India that they have to lower their emissions.”

“That’s where our problem is, and these green subsidies that Biden has put in, all he’s done is help China,” she said. 

“You’ve got to understand, all these electric vehicles he’s done? Half of the batteries for electric vehicles are made in China. That’s not helping the environment. You’re putting money in China’s pocket. Biden did that,” she contended.

“We need to acknowledge the truth, which is, these subsidies are not working. We also need to take on the international world and say, ‘Okay, India and China, you’ve got to stop polluting.’ That’s when we’ll start to deal with climate change,” Haley concluded.

Burgum and Haley did not mention that China uses slave labor to produce green energy products at low prices, adding a tremendous moral hazard to the Western world’s growing dependence on Chinese solar and wind products. 

Chinese solar companies that are actually under U.S. sanctions for using slave labor have nevertheless doubled their profits because the government is forcing people to spend such titanic sums of money on green energy. Chinese propaganda speaks of high-tech mining operations producing the rare earth minerals needed for green power and batteries, but investigators discovered the horrifying truth is strip mines worked by children in rags earning pennies a day.

As Haley said, “green energy” is a massive wealth transfer from middle-class American taxpayers to the Chinese Communist Party – and it is also a transparent effort to offload the environmental impact and moral hazard of the “green energy” industry into an authoritarian regime that does not care what climate change activists think. Solar panels only pretend to reduce carbon emissions because the tremendous amount of carbon fuel burned to produce them is happening in a secretive fascist country whose activities are studiously ignored by left-wing politicians and climate activists.

China’s dominance of the industry also conceals the true cost of the “Green New Deal.” Green energy is already fabulously expensive, as Burgum pointed out. If China’s brutal labor policies and lack of concern for environmental regulations were not pushing prices down – if wind, solar, and batteries were manufactured under Western labor and environmental policies – the bill for the “green energy transition” would be even more absurd.

Haley inadvertently skirted near another huge problem with the green transition when she said America needs to say, “Okay, India and China, you’ve got to stop polluting.”

Unfortunately, India and China would both say “no,” very firmly. Both of them are committed to industrialization and have no intention of compromising their goals to placate climate activists.

India absolutely refuses to apologize for buying discounted Russian oil or scale back its purchases – on the contrary, India and Russia are making major joint investments to increase their oil trade in the coming years. One of India’s major sources of income is refining Russian oil and selling the finished product to other countries – including nations that nominally ban imports of Russian oil.

It should be noted that Russia has even less patience for climate or human rights activists than China does. Moscow might be a bit less enthusiastic about slave labor than Beijing, but on the other hand, it kidnaps children from Ukraine on an industrial scale. Money from Russia’s oil industry fills the coffers of strongman Vladimir Putin’s ugly regime and stuffs the pockets of Russian oligarchs, who are known to do some very bad things with their excess loot.

The U.S. has no leverage over China to make it stop burning giant amounts of coal, and it values India too much as a strategic ally to use whatever leverage it has in New Delhi. China, India, and Russia are founding members of BRICS, which just held a summit at which it declared climate change is exclusively a Western responsibility – a burden that should not be borne by “developing” nations with big plans to industrialize.

The summit concluded with BRICS inviting six more nations to join, including the major oil powers of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Iran, so the list of nations that insist America and Europe should pay the total cost of “climate change” is getting longer.

Haley will need to elaborate on exactly what she would do as president after India and China politely and rudely – respectively – refuse her request to sacrifice more for climate change. The rest of the political movement needs to start being more honest with the American people about how much the “green energy transition” really costs, the moral and strategic peril of forcing Americans to pay for so much product from China, and how little any of those gigantic compulsory expenditures will matter if the world’s worst polluters simply refuse to play along.


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