BY DAVID HOLT:
Ponder this: A new tally of global cities’ emissions finds that the top 25 are responsible for 52% of the planet’s urban greenhouse gas emissions. Twenty-three of those are in China.
New York City is the first American city to appear, at No. 26. Out of the top 75, just four other American cities are listed – San Diego, Houston, Chicago and Los Angeles – all of them ranked 41 or higher. In other words, the U.S. – including each of our major cities – is outperforming the world when it comes to emissions.
All this data begs a question of our elected leaders who say we have to do more for our environment, banking on the fact that many Americans hear “environment” and think only locally, as in their state or nation. The fact is that the environment – including carbon emission – is global, so what we do here matters but what happens globally matters as much, if not more.
Unless we can use our U.S. innovation and leadership to spur other nations to make meaningful progress, then global environmental improvement will not happen. This is an indisputable fact.
What we in the U.S. have been doing for the global environment is working, but trying to do more without the help of other nations will only hurt our economy and make life harder for families and small businesses – especially those in inner cities, on fixed incomes or at or below the poverty level. Many of have heard about environmental justice; well, energy justice is real and it has far-reaching consequences.
Without a doubt, the U.S. must maintain its progress, which includes reducing emissions by more than any other nation for the last two decades – even as our record energy output made the U.S. the world’s largest producer of oil and natural gas.
There are those who argue, as they always do, that “we must do more” to show American environmental leadership to the rest of the world. For one, we could start by touting our current successes, and not self-flagellate to please a narrow world-view that starts with blaming America and relies heavily on socialist principles.
We are already leading the world in terms of environmental regulations and controls, and again, we’ve – by far – reduced our emissions more than any country year after year for more than 20 years. By 2025, we will be more than two-thirds of the way to reaching our targeted emissions reduction of 28% from 2005 levels under the Paris Climate Agreement, according to Bloomberg Philanthropies. Part of that is owing to the good work we’ve done in our cities to reduce emissions.
Contrast this with the facts about China, which recently won plaudits from many in the “we must do more” crowd for promising to stop increasing emissions before 2030. While we’re cutting our emissions, China’s pollution by then will have surged an estimated 14%-25%. On top of that, China’s greenhouse gas emissions in 2019 exceeded those of the entire developed world.
Say that again: more than the entire developed world.
Those are facts, undisputed by even the most hardcore anti-business zealot masquerading as an environmentalist.
When facts don’t add up, you can count on activists and allied political figures to turn to fear as a sales tactic. Just look at the about-face on natural gas. After talking up natural gas as a “bridge fuel,” the big-money environmental lobby turned on it and, struggling to find a plausible reason for the 180-degree turn, warned of calamity over methane. The obvious solution, they posited in a fact-free manner, was stopping natural gas production and transportation.
Natural gas is in large part responsible for our emissions reductions, as is our more recent and growing wind and solar power deployment. All of this ought to be applauded, not derided. It’s all good for our families, small businesses and farmers, and our economy. Energy is fundamental to a modern life, and it is essential to a healthy economy and population.
Yet the “we must do more” gang is silent on China’s rapidly increasing emissions. This comes while the U.S. continues to rapidly reduce our emission – including carbon, volatile organic compounds, nitrogen oxides, and many, many more.
However, the U.S. anti-energy activists are not so silent when it comes to asking the American government to go easy on China.
More than 50 environmental groups recently sent a letter urging President Biden to be less aggressive toward Beijing, because it could risk Chinese cooperation. The groups, with no apparent sense of irony, wrote that doing so would build a “global economy that works for everyday working people.”
We applaud their notion of supporting working people. But attempting to force the United States to curtail its affordable and reliable sources of energy is not supporting working people. It is harming them and taking away energy that ought to be the right of every American and indeed, everyone in the world.
If we want a forecast of the future as advocated for by activists, let’s look at our recent history. Barely eight months since a new presidential administration took over, we have seen what constraining American energy production does, through a moratorium on federal energy leases and the shutdown of the Keystone XL pipeline. Just look at the higher gas prices, lost jobs, proposed tax increases, and rising inflation and try not to have a flashback to the 1970s.
American families, farmers and small businesses all benefit from safe, abundant, affordable, reliable and environmentally responsible energy. Without energy, we face job losses, economic opportunities and, some cases, the loss of life when energy is needed but not there.
Government policies ought to start with the principle of delivering energy reliably and affordably to homes and businesses. The policies advanced by elected leaders who are expecting Americans to get used to going without energy – think planned blackouts due to inadequate energy supply – or to pay more for it when they need it most are wrong.
When political leaders tell us we must ban certain energy sources to meet our emissions reduction goals, we should ask them why. Ask them about what they are doing about other countries, before they ask us to send our electrical grid backwards to the reliability and affordability levels experienced in the developing world.
Americans should demand reliable, affordable and environmentally superior energy. We must accept nothing less, and tell our leaders we are watching what is happening in the rest of the world.
We cannot meet our global environmental goals unless others follow America’s lead, not the other way around.
This article originally appeared at Real Clear Energy
David Holt is president of Consumer Energy Alliance, a U.S. consumer energy and environment advocate supporting affordable, reliable energy for working families, seniors and businesses across the country