Biden, Xi Set To Put the Gloss on the Failure of the Glasgow Climate Parley
This article is from the archive of The New York Sun before the launch of its new website in 2022. The Sun has neither altered nor updated such articles but will seek to correct any errors, mis-categorizations or other problems introduced during transfer.
The way to view the virtual summit taking place on Monday between President Biden and the Communist Chinese leader, Xi Jinping, is as a palliative following the failure of the 26th Conference of Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, which is wrapping up at Glasgow. COP26 opened with dire warning and great expectations, only to fizzle out.
America’s special envoy for climate, Secretary of State Kerry, echoing Abraham Lincoln, called the conclave the “last, best chance” to cure the climate conundrum. Of course, Mr. Kerry had said the same thing about a climate bill he was pushing in the Senate in 2010. It was also how the UN billed the COP15 global warming conference in 2009 at Copenhagen, which was ironically interrupted by a blizzard.
It seems these events are always the last best chance until the next one. Yet COP26 turned out to be as short on results as it was long on promises. An analysis by the UN itself found a “massive gap” between long term carbon-cutting objectives and short term plans. Developing countries that had expected substantial new handouts from the northern hemisphere were disappointed. Green activists denounced the outcome from their “People’s Summit.”
Even the environmentalist thought leader Greta Thunberg, a Swede, called the meeting a “PR stunt” and “failure.” Plus, the carbon footprint of COP26 was double that of COP25, possibly due to the increase in the usage by summiteers of private jets. One can just imagine what the carbon footprint might have been had Mr. Xi chosen to participate in person and flown to Glasgow from Beijing on a Communist Chinese jumbo jet.
Messrs. Biden and Xi, the latter of whom stayed home to engineer another term as ruler of the Chinese mainland, tried to save the day with a “surprise” statement that America and the PRC would work together to mitigate climate change. Unfortunately, the announcement was low on specifics, vague on targets, and lacking enforcement. The most notable feature of the statement was the pledge to share technology.
That likely portends that America will provide to the communists technology they might otherwise steal. Note that in 2014, President Obama made a similar deal with Xi to reduce carbon emissions. Since then the PRC’s carbon output has risen to around 14 billion tons from around 9.3 billion tons, with a record increase in the first quarter of 2021. American carbon emissions by contrast are less than half of China’s.
America’s emissions, it turns out, have been declining since 2007. Yet it was Mr. Biden who apologized in Glasgow for America pulling out of the Paris climate accords, for which the Communist Chinese press ruthlessly mocked him as a “weakling.” All seems to be forgiven, however, with Monday’s virtual summit approaching. White House spox are already lowering expectations for the meeting, saying the talk is “not about seeking specific deliverables or outcomes.”
Topics like the status of Taiwan, the fate of the Uyghurs, the betrayal of Hong Kong, Beijing’s nuclear modernization, hypersonic weapons, and buildup of the its navy — these matters are unlikely to come up Monday. Instead, look to America easing trade restrictions, promoting technology transfer. Plus the leaders will no doubt trumpet their environmental agreement. Mr. Biden might congratulate Mr. Xi on winning a third term.
Image: “U.S.-China To Work Together on Emissions,” by Mike Finn. Via Flickr.