President Biden heads to Europe for the start of the Global Climate Summit this week in Glasgow. The Wall Street Journal does well to point out the irony of Biden’s participation in climate talks and the emptiness of any pledges made, considering the state of affairs back home and the energy crisis facing nations around the globe. The editorial board describes the summit as “incongruous bordering on the bizarre” as “Europe is battening down for a winter fuel crisis, President Biden is begging OPEC to produce more oil, China is firing up its coal-fueled power plants amid an electricity shortage, and climate-change plans wilt as soon as they’re exposed to the sunlight of democratic politics.”
While Biden might like to make good on his campaign promise to aggressively tackle climate change, he lacks support even from his own party to push through the hotly contested $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill that includes green energy incentives. The administration’s dogged attempt to reduce greenhouse gas emissions serves only to make the U.S. increasingly dependent on foreign sources of energy.
Media coverage of the lead-up to the climate summit paints Biden as committed to showing the world that the U.S. is serious about its pledges, while handicapped by the lack of support back home. However, what outlets like NBC fail to highlight is the damaging economic costs of implementing drastic climate measures. Americans have already realized some of the costs of Biden’s climate-driven efforts, with an increase of roughly $1.25 per gallon nationwide since last year. As Americans look for relief from high inflation and rising gas prices, Biden tells constituents that he doesn’t “have a near-term answer.” Making good on unrealistic climate pledges apparently outweighs economic survival.
Making good on ambitious climate change pledges requires a significant investment of time and money. The shift away from traditional sources of energy (gas, coal) will not happen overnight, and an estimated $4 trillion per year over the next decade is required for global development of renewable energy to reach net-zero emissions by 2050. Meanwhile, China remains responsible for a large portion of greenhouse gas emissions (yet far less committed to reduction and notably absent from this year’s climate summit), and Russia (also an absent attendee at the summit) will likely exercise political leverage through pending completion of its Nord Stream 2 pipeline.
With winter just around the corner, the pending energy crisis will prove more damaging than climate change will. And for his part, Biden will have no one to thank other than himself.