Climate change is a national security threat – but not in the way the national security elite assumes.
Shortly before the Soviet Union collapsed, Greenpeace opened an office in Moscow. It enjoyed the patronage of a leading member of the Soviet Academy of Sciences and enjoyed Kremlin funding, laundered through a state-owned record company. The green activist group made clear that it would have nothing to do with environmental groups in the Baltic republics. Recycling standard Soviet propaganda, Greenpeace denounced them as little more than separatist organizations.
This was by no means a one-off. The inconvenient truth: the environmental movement fought on the wrong side of the Cold War. In the early 1980s, it used the “nuclear winter” scare to try to stop Ronald Reagan’s nuclear build-up and undermine the West’s ability to negotiate the arms agreement that effectively ended the Cold War. It turns out that nuclear winter had been concocted by the KGB and transmitted to America by executives of the Rockefeller Family Fund. A nuclear winter conference held in 1983 was supported by 31 environmental groups, including the Environmental Defense Fund, Friends of the Earth, and the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC).
This pattern, wherein the West’s enemies use the environmental movement – whether NGOs like Greenpeace, foundations, or “concerned scientists,” to undermine Western interests – is now being repeated, this time in respect to China. A report by Patricia Adams for the London-based GWPF released earlier this month lays bare the role of the green movement in acting as China’s propagandists.
Since Xi Jinping became general secretary of the Chinese Communist Party eight years ago, almost everyone who believed China’s communist regime would become more benign internally and less threatening externally has revised his opinion – everyone, that is, apart from climate activists. “Rather than becoming cautious about China’s role in the world, these groups lavish it with praise for its environmental efforts,” Adams notes. NRDC’s head of Asia strategy, Barbara Finamore, has even written a book, Will China Save the Planet? Perhaps the only surprise is the question mark.
China’s economy is based on hydrocarbons, which generate 86% of primary energy consumption. China added 11.4 gigawatts of new coal capacity in the first six months of 2020 (by contrast, the whole of 2019 saw 15.1 GW of coal capacity retired in the U.S.). Chinese state-owned utilities are expanding their coal fleets by about 10% over the next five years. Beijing is investing heavily in oil-refining capacity and now has the largest refining capacity after the U.S. China is also the world’s largest importer of natural gas. […]
The question for the incoming Biden administration concerns how America should respond: As a small country, or as a great power? Climate change is a national security threat, but not in the way that the national security establishment thinks. Obsessive focus on climate change threatens the vital interests of the United States by desensitizing national security professionals to geopolitical realities and subordinating them to the illusion of planetary salvation. China and its NGO allies won’t do anything to disabuse them of that illusion.