Western nations are desperate to feel good about their actions on climate change — especially after this week’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s “code red for humanity” report.
But feeling good and actually achieving something are not the same thing.
This is a distinction that begs to be made as the Biden administration, during the same week as the IPCC report’s release, has asked OPEC to produce more oil, after recently shutting down a slew of energy projects in the United States.
President Biden’s request is urgent. US inflation hit a 13-year high this month, driven in part by rising fuel prices that have gone up 42 percent in a year — from $2.15 at the pump in 2020 to $3.19 today.
“Higher gasoline costs, if left unchecked, risk harming the ongoing global recovery,” Biden’s National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan wrote in a statement on Wednesday. Referring to an agreement by OPEC and Saudi Arabia to increase their post-pandemic oil production by 400,000 barrels per day, Sullivan chided, “At a critical moment in the global recovery, this is simply not enough.”
The President’s critics have rightly pointed out the glaring double standards.
On his first day in office, citing environmental concerns, Biden used an executive order to cancel the Keystone XL project. The pipeline would have provided energy-efficient transport for oil between the US and Canada. Some 70,000 jobs disappeared with the stroke of that pen.
Ironically, just months later Biden waived sanctions on the Nord Stream 2, a controversial oil pipeline connecting Germany with Russia, in a major financial boon to the Kremlin.
Back on home soil, the Biden White House has suspended new oil and gas leasing and drilling permits for U.S. lands and waters. It has also cancelled several existing oil and gas leases that had been granted in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR). And this week Washington voted to spend $333 billion in taxpayer earnings in search of “environmental and clean energy initiatives”.
All this while begging OPEC to produce more oil?
Make it make sense.
As certain as death and taxes, hampering oil production in the US was always going to drive up gasoline prices. And it was always going to send energy jobs offshore where environmental protections are far less of a priority. This is why, like him or hate him, one of Donald Trump’s legitimate boasts was energy independence for America — a feat his administration achieved for the first time in 62 years but that will soon be a footnote in history.
Policies must ultimately be judged by their results, not their intent. No doubt, warm and fuzzy feelings were enjoyed by his staff and voter base alike as Biden approved each of these “green energy” initiatives. But just because carbon is being emitted somewhere else doesn’t mean any real progress has been made.
The same can be said of the climate change agenda more broadly. OECD member nations are chastising themselves over their carbon footprint while China pumps out more emissions than all 38 of them combined — or 27 percent of all global emissions. At 11 percent, the US is responsible for less than half that amount.
As long as Bidenesque policies are in play, the planet will notice little difference. But OECD nations will trade their collective wealth and influence for a pot of stew. And many of us will be left wondering if clean energy is really the goal.