Biden's Big Climate Conference Looking Expensive and Useless
The Biden administration is desperate to demonstrate global leadership. President Biden has settled upon climate change as the ideal issue with which to be seen in command of the world. He has decided to lead a "climate summit" for forty world leaders to prove it. But Vladimir Putin has seen through his plans and resists submitting to U.S. control.
This week, the Kremlin confirmed that along with Chinese president Xi Jinping, President Putin has now been formally invited to President Biden's "climate summit" — but has not specified whether Putin will accept Biden's invitation either by attending himself or by sending a Russian delegate. In all, forty world leaders have been invited to the White House for the event, described as an "important milestone" en route to the 26th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP26) of the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). COP26, originally to have been held in November 2020, has been postponed to be held 1–12 November 2021 in Glasgow by the U.K. in partnership with Italy. The COP26 summit is envisioned as a means of accelerating movement toward the goals of the Paris Agreement.
According to Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, no details regarding Biden's summit are forthcoming. Russia is pressing for information through the Russian Embassy in Washington, D.C. and through the U.S. Mission to Moscow. Before actually inviting Putin to his summit, Biden announced it at the end of March, affirming that he had also invited Chinese President Xi Jinping. All that has been shared is that the climate summit will be held virtually, timed to coincide with Earth Day, which is celebrated on April 22.
U.S. climate envoy John Kerry stated in January that the U.S. has to "make up for four years of lost action on climate" — clearly referring to former president Donald Trump, who formally withdrew the United States from the Paris climate agreement in June 2017, the earliest possible date since under the agreement, no country could give notice to leave until after three years had passed. There were sound reasons for Trump's decision. If carried out, the energy regulations agreed to in Paris by the Obama administration would have destroyed hundreds of thousands of American jobs, eliminating an estimated $2.5 trillion in GDP by the year 2035. These cuts, moreover, were incremental, designed to lead to ever greater reductions in future CO2 emissions. The Green Climate Fund envisioned by the Paris Agreement for subsidizing climate adaptation programs in poorer nations was to collect $100 billion from signatories per year by 2020. The Obama administration had already shipped $1 billion in taxpayer dollars to this fund, without authorization from Congress. Moreover, the top recipients of these funds in the past have been among the most corrupt governments of the world rather than the neediest. In contrast, one of President Biden's first acts as president hours after taking office was to sign an executive order to rejoin the Paris accords, reversing yet another of Trump's acts as president. The U.S. officially rejoined February 19.
According to the White House, "[t]he President, in his invitation, urged leaders to use the summit as an opportunity to outline how their countries will also contribute to stronger climate aspirations." So far, however, the Biden administration has failed to disclose any details regarding the summit, nor anything regarding a possible joint declaration or separate agreements, beyond a promise to present "an ambitious new plan to reduce emissions by 2030" ahead of COP26.
From the point of view of Dmitry Suslov, a deputy director of Russia's Higher School of Economics, the main purpose of this virtual event is to announce the return of American leadership using the topic of climate change, which plays an increasing role in the global agenda. "The United States wants to use the event as a platform to show how great they are and what kind of leaders they are with their new ambitious approach. ... The very fact of the gathering of about forty foreign leaders by the US President will be important evidence of American leadership, as well as its demonstration."
To chief researcher Vladimir Vasiliev of Russia's Institute of the U.S.A. and Canada, Biden's team is "obsessed" with climate problems. "Probably, at the summit, some alarmist issue or other will be announced, so that everyone must 'save the planet.'" He anticipates that the Biden administration will try to impose climate programs as a high priority upon the other states. "It is hard to say what Russia will do, especially in light of Biden's statements about Putin. Perhaps this situation will become a reason to ignore the substantive part of this summit, referring to the unfriendly relations of the United States."
Vasiliev perceives that Washington's actual goal in inviting Russia and China to the summit has nothing to do with climate change. According to Vasiliev, Washington wants Moscow to develop "green technologies" and reduce the role of non-renewable energy — despite the fact that Russia's hydrocarbon economy is the basis for the Russian Federation's economic well-being. "As for China, the U.S. wants to slow down its economic development with the help of environmental restrictions. ... [V]arious programs to clean the air and improve environmental safety ... will actually provoke a sharp rise in production costs and lead to a drop in the competitiveness of Chinese products." He maintains that the invitation of Russia and China to a climate summit under current diplomatic conditions fits well into the "two-pronged" foreign policy approach of the Biden administration. "In addition, Washington at the summit will look especially good against the background of Russia and China, which do not promise a transition to full carbon neutrality by 2050. ... [T]he United States will declare what good fellows they are with plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions."
Under U.K. sponsorship, Biden's highly anticipated 2021 U.N. Climate Change Conference does not promise to advance his calls for climate change. Great Britain's own trade adviser, Tony Abbott, has declared global warming to be "absolute crap." One of his first acts as prime minister of Australia (2013–2015) was to abolish the Australian climate change advisory council, and then to scrap Australia's carbon tax.
Lynn Corum is a translator of Russian who studies developments in the Russian press that affect America's national interests. She has been researching and writing on Putin's stated plans since 2009 and is a world expert on Project Russia, the Kremlin's published state ideology.
Image via Pxhere.
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