You don’t need an advanced academic degree to practice common sense. That’s why working folks who carry the nation on their backs have grasped the limits of the renewable energy revolution more quickly than those enthralled with the promise of a fossil-fuel-free future.
The United Nations’ 24th annual climate-change conference concluded the other day in Poland, where the 196 signatory nations squabbled over the details of a rulebook meant to referee the arguments over the effects of greenhouse gases released by human activity. In the end, agreements for reducing carbon emissions and raising money were reached, but only sort of. Compliance with climate-change rules is to be voluntary, and it’s hardly surprising that some participants — Saudi Arabia, Russia, Kuwait and the United States among them — have been well aware that some rules are meant to be broken.
President Trump took a look at terms of the Paris Climate Agreement in 2017 and withdrew U.S. participation. Since then, the U.N. campaign to shift energy use from fossil fuels to renewable sources of energy, like sun and wind, have lost political support. The Green Climate Fund, set up to collect reparations from developed nations to pay for clean energy projects in underdeveloped countries, is falling far short of its goal of collecting $100 billion per year by 2020.
The global body’s climate lobby had counted on China as the leader of the renewable energy revolution, but the Beijing government is equivocating. “The Road from Paris: China’s Climate U-Turn,” a white paper published by the British-based Global Warming Policy Foundation, says a year after the U.S. pullout from the 2015 climate agreement China has gone its own way. “China’s energy policy is focused on the Communist Party’s two primary domestic needs, securing the energy to fuel China’s economy and reducing the smog that undermines public confidence in the party. Failure to accomplish those two goals would represent an existential threat to the party.”
Although China has invested heavily in renewal energy projects, wind still only supplies 2.7 percent of the nation’s energy needs and solar energy even less, at 0.5 percent. While the Chinese have labored to clean their dirty skies by bringing more natural gas plants online, their primary source of power necessarily remains affordable coal. Who can blame Chinese leaders — or President Trump — for giving precedence to the needs of their nations?