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A Foreign Perspective

06/13/2017

When the President withdrew the United States from the Paris Accord on Global Warming, he understandably argued that the U.S. had tougher goals than China, which is the world’s greatest polluter.  Why shouldn’t they have the tougher goals?  It is a good argument.

From the Chinese perspective, the U.S. has historically been the world’s greatest polluter.  The U.S. grew wealthy and powerful by burning fossil fuels for 150 years.  They argue it is not fair to those newly industrialized nations not to have the same benefit as the United States.  That is also a good argument.

It is also significant that the Chinese are already fighting pollution aggressively.  I was in Beijing a few years ago and could barely breath.  Neither could the Chinese.  They have cancelled over a hundred coal-burning electricity facilities this year alone.  Two-thirds of all workers in the world, who are involved in the production of solar energy, already work in China.  That’s about two million workers, and it shows, because solar energy production has increased a whopping 80% so far this year.  From a geopolitical standpoint, oil-vulnerable China is seriously committed to freedom from oil and is committed to both solar and wind energy.

At the same time, we are protecting the jobs of 400 thousand coal workers, who might as well be digging buggy-whips out of the ground.  Coal has already lost the battle to natural gas.  Coal production has dropped every year since 2013 and will continue to do so.  Natural gas is both cheaper and cleaner.

As the world’s new leader in the fight against global warming, China will now be able to attract the best and brightest young engineers and technical workers.  They will also attract rivers of private financing.  Coal mines don’t need any more financing.

The Chinese did not need the Paris Accord to get serious about fighting pollution.  They just needed to breath in Beijing.  

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