(ORDO NEWS) — When the calls of the “exclusive nation” to all other countries of the world “to give up oil and coal in order to save the world from Global Warming“, which the United States itself invented and promotes to the masses, but which they themselves do not consider it necessary to carry out, the world media begins to tear the “roof off” and this can be seen in the hysterical article in The Guardian.
If Joe Biden is serious about tackling the climate crisis, he must use his country’s leverage to limit fossil fuel production, not increase it.
The report of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) clearly demonstrated how dangerous the climate crisis is. In the face of this unprecedented and unique challenge, the central question is, can we change course quickly enough to contain the damage and keep the planet livable?
Earlier this year, it seemed that the balance of political and economic power might shift in favor of rapid decarbonization. China, Japan and South Korea are committed to achieving zero emissions. Trump, the main enemy of the climate, has lost the White House. Biden’s new administration promoted what was called a major green infrastructure program.
The NextGenerationEU incentive package heightened ambition. First the Bank of England and then the European Central Bank (ECB) tackled the climate issue. The German Green Party gained high positions in the polls. Investors and financial markets dumped dirty assets. Even a lobby like the International Energy Agency, once created to represent the interests of oil consumers, has charted a net zero course. On July 14, the EU announced its Fit for 55 plan, which included, among other things, ending the sale of new cars with internal combustion engines by the early 2030s.
It was a high point, but was it also a turning point – in the wrong direction? Terrible, but as we digest the IPCC findings, the sense of momentum diminishes. The G7 in Cornwall in June was unable to agree to end the use of coal.
The EU and the US are at odds over carbon tariffs. The G20 environmental ministers’ meeting in Naples last month showed how little goodwill they have ahead of the Cop26 summit in November. In the UK, which will chair the meeting, the Tories are fighting a fierce climate battle. In the US Congress, the climate component of Biden’s infrastructure bill has been reduced to a pale shadow. Meanwhile, as the global economy recovers, energy prices are rising, raising concerns about rising fuel costs. In Germany, the greens were obsessed with agitation around gas prices. Finally, on Wednesday, in a White House statement by National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan, those tensions exploded.
Sullivan’s statement reads as follows:
“The rise in gasoline prices, if left unchecked, risks damaging the ongoing global recovery. The price of crude oil is higher than it was at the end of 2019, before the pandemic. Although OPEC + members recently agreed to increase production, this increase will not be able to to fully offset the previous production cuts imposed by OPEC + during the pandemic through 2022. At a critical time in the global economic recovery, this simply isn’t enough. including gasoline. Although we are not a member of OPEC, the United States will always speak with international partners about significant issues that affect our national economy and security, both publicly and privately. ”
Yes, you read that right. One of the most senior figures in the Biden administration, an administration that has pledged climate will be “everywhere” in its policies, says that raising gasoline prices to $ 3.17 a gallon is a national security issue and that the US reserves the right to persuade Wards and Russia to flood the world with a lot of oil.
We must not hide: if this is the position of the Biden administration, then its decarbonization program is buried. According to an expert no less authoritative than the IEA, if we want to reach zero by 2050, we need to stop expanding our fossil fuel production capacities now. In Europe, courts have ordered companies such as Shell to develop plans. To fill the gap, the world’s largest oil company, Saudi Aramco, has signaled that it is expanding its capacity. Biden’s national security adviser just gave her the green light.
This applies not only to the oil markets. Gas prices are also rising and there are calls for capacity expansion. This is a game of power. If politicians get serious about decarbonization, the oil and gas industry will stop new investment. Since economic activity and fossil fuel consumption are tightly linked in the current situation, increased demand against the backdrop of inelastic supply will lead to price spikes. Consumers will pay this price and vent their discontent on politicians. There is also an aspect of social justice. Fuel price spikes hit low-income consumers the most. The Biden administration is pursuing foreign policy in the interests of the American “middle class.” In Sullivan’s interpretation, this means pushing the oil oligarchs from OPEC and Russia to expand production.
The United States is a unique Western power with real geopolitical weight. If the EU or Japan are screaming, then Opek and Russia are shrugging their shoulders, which is why this is such a critical test for the Biden administration. If the US is serious about tackling the climate crisis, it must use its unique geopolitical leverage not to sustain fossil fuel production, but to limit it.
If prices rise, let that serve as a notification to wealthy consumers that it is time for them to switch from giant SUVs to electric vehicles (EVs). Helping low-income Americans doesn’t need to push Opek to increase production, but rather a wide array of measures to keep fuel bills less pressing on household budgets. This is why Biden’s agenda on jobs, wages, families and the care economy is so important. If fuel poverty is a problem per se, take targeted assistance measures, including, for example, a national cash-for-clunkers program that offers incentives to swap old cars for new, fuel-efficient ones.
The stalled progress of Biden’s infrastructure plans and Sullivan’s reactionary oil policies are linked. Only if the United States can set in motion a just transition at home can it confidently lead the world on climate change. Until that happens, the US, as the fossil fuel addict that it is, whether it’s Republican or Democratic, is fundamentally unreliable. Keep this in mind when evaluating IPCC scenarios.
Adam Toose is professor of history at Columbia University.
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