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UN’s COP26 is wrong climate strategy

Haze obscures central Phoenix on Christmas morning in 2006. (Arizona Department of Environmental Quality Photo)

President Biden and the Democrats have a problem. For the second time in six years, a Democratic president has negotiated an international agreement that will never be presented to the U.S. Senate for consent and will never be voted on by any of America’s elected officials. They have negotiated an international agreement that will likely be overturned by the next Republican president, and emissions will continue to fall regardless. The problem for the Democrats is that their supposed climate leadership isn’t real.

Alex Diaz

The Democrats don’t want to solve the climate crisis. Their true goal is to destroy the fossil fuels industry and, by extension, destroy the communities supported by that industry. The Democrats pretend to care about the climate crisis, yet continually introduce unrealistic proposals that have less than a zero percent chance of being passed, shove climate boondoggles and unsound tax breaks into multi-trillion-dollar, omnibus bills that, if passed at all, would be done so on the smallest partisan margins in a generation.

That isn’t leadership. Going to international forums to make promises that hold no authority isn’t leadership. Blowing out the deficit on wishful policies and unsound theories isn’t leadership. Supporting a degrowth plan for the climate crisis isn’t leadership. Focusing on making the transition to a clean economy as painful as possible isn’t leadership.

I just spent the week at COP26 and the Global Conservative Climate Summit that transpired at the same time as COP 26, a United Nations climate change conference. At those events, I found true climate leadership. We heard from conservative and liberal politicians from around the world, as well as from innovators, engineers, economists, and scientists. Outside of COP26 was where real leadership and ideas could be found.

In conservative climate circles, the focus was not on rushing the transition to clean energy as Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm seems dead-set on doing, but instead as an opportunity to refocus our economy toward serving individuals and communities, and decoupling from China. In conservative climate circles, we see the climate challenge as an opportunity to spearhead American and Western leadership in manufacturing, automobiles, energy policy, land conservation, and water management. In conservative climate circles, the market is an ally, not a foe.

At the same time across Glasgow, former President Obama, President Biden, and myriad other world leaders, one right after another, lectured the world about how we are failing to meet the current crisis with the veracity needed. In the world they described, we must regress to the Middle Ages, give up our technological advances, and pray that maybe, just maybe, the Chinese Communist Party would shut down a couple of their coal plants.

Needless to say, most of those supposed “leaders” arrived at COP26 in multi-vehicle armored motorcades after flying across the world in private jets. 

While one side is projecting optimism about our ability to meet our present challenge, the other side finds it fit to lecture us about how horrible we are. What makes all of this lecturing, hectoring, and hypocrisy even better is that one major industrial economy stands apart from the rest, not for its emissions increase, but rather its emissions decrease.

The United States, much-maligned following President Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris Climate Accords, is the only major industrial economy to actually see its net emissions drop. That drop wasn’t facilitated by White House dictate, but rather market mechanisms in which technological innovations in natural gas production made transitions away from more carbon-intensive coal easier – reducing our emissions while also embracing the economic prosperity that often comes with innovation.

This brings us back to where we began. Under President Trump, the United States was a global leader in emissions reduction. Under President Biden, the United States has halted or greatly restricted the expansion of natural gas as an energy source, canceled or halted major oil pipelines that are safer than trucks when it comes to delivering oil to cities, shuttered nuclear plants, and generally backtracked on its emissions reductions. Under President Biden and the Democrats, the United States isn’t progressing in meeting our climate challenge, we’re regressing. 

Instead of leading with cleaner American oil, we beg Saudi Arabia, Iran, Venezuela, and Russia to increase their output. Instead of lowering the cost of electric vehicles, we make gas prohibitively expensive and provide tax breaks for only union-made electric vehicles. Instead of building and deploying modern, and clean, nuclear power plants, we shutter our existing ones because it makes us feel good. 

If you want to see true climate leadership, don’t look to those who want to remake America and send us back to the Middle Ages. Instead, look to those who want to use America’s innate greatness and meet the challenge head-on. Look to those who want America to be strong, and to lead from the front. 

We can face the challenge that climate change poses. We’ve faced great challenges before and come out the victor. The Democrats just won’t lead the way. 

Alex Diaz is an Arizona native studying at Catholic University and is a member of the American Conservation Coalition. 

One comment

  1. Clearly this article only has a political agenda. Loose references to what “Democrats” and “Republicans” are doing only serves the authors purpose of promoting Trump-Republicanism. He is right to criticize Democrats, (my opinion here: they are the true hypocrites because they claim to want to stop global warming, but do nothing about it), but Republicans (who are more honest in their wish to continue harming our planet), are also complicit, (perhaps slightly more-so, but that’s not really the point). The problem is not either party, but a political system in which MONEY controls government. We are not in a position to be nice, polite, or optimistic, as Monied oil interests would have us believe. There is an urgency here that Mr. Diaz barely touches on. Mr. Diaz starts to make some good points (we need better leadership)., but then digresses into political discourse with silly arguments like an idea that Trump lead us to lower emissions, or misleading phrases like “cleaner American oil”. It’s hard to tell whether this is a serious article about our future or a political advertisement.

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