Rebecca Grant: Biden, Kerry and climate – 5 dirty secrets behind their decarbonization plans

On Friday, President Joe Biden pledged climate action at the virtual G7 and teased an upcoming major summit on Earth Day, April 22, 2021.   

Deep decarbonization is what Team Biden wants – the complete end of carbon fuel for electricity, cars, trucks and industrial production. Major economies must “chart a path to deep decarbonization,” former Secretary of State John Kerry, who is special presidential envoy for climate, said Jan. 21. It’s all about finding another way to power our planet. 

What’s that add up to? According to Kerry, the U.S. must phase out coal five times faster, phase in renewables six times faster, and bring in electric vehicles 22 times faster. Oh my.   

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I love trees and rivers and clean air. But realize, there are dirty secrets behind this all-out drive to decarbonization. Here are five.   

1. Wind and Solar Can’t Meet US Electricity Demand Now or in 2050   

On Feb. 8, the Department of Energy projected that coal and natural gas will still contribute nearly 40% of U.S. electricity generation in 2050. Wind and solar power will increase but they aren’t ready to meet the huge demand for electricity without fossil fuels and nuclear power in the mix.   

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2. China’s Not Ready to Go Green and is Still Building Coal-Fired Electricity Plants 

China is the world’s biggest polluter.  China generates 28% of the planet’s yearly carbon dioxide emissions and won’t even start to cut back carbon emissions until 2030.  

Yes, Xi Jinping has a plan to get China to net-zero emissions in 2060, 10 years after everyone else. However, China’s plan starts with increasing carbon emissions for 10 years, then radically scaling back. Huh? Fact is, China can’t slack off economic growth. Even down the road, China’s plan won’t stop all emissions, it just includes a lot of offsets from carbon capture and planting trees.   

In my opinion, it would be easier to verify a nuclear arms control agreement (which China won’t join) than to track China’s true status on greenhouse gas emissions. 

3. Biden Ordered the Military to Tackle the Climate Crisis 

Speaking of national security, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin declared “climate considerations” an essential element of national security on Jan. 27. The military has already dabbled in clean energy. You’ll find solar panels on military bases, and the U.S Air Force got a green fuel award for flying a B-52 bomber with synthetic fuel in 2006.  

I fear Team Biden is exploiting our genuine love for our environment in the USA to push an agenda that could hurt Americans. 

What’s new is that Team Biden wants sweeping involvement by the military and perhaps more important, the defense budget involved in climate change technology experiments. Austin’s directive covers everything from climate risk in wargames to overall defense strategy. Scary stuff, given the slate of national security threats from China, Russia, Iran and others.   

4. Clean Energy Is Big Business, If the Fossil Fuel Gang Can Be Pushed Aside 

Global investment in renewables will exceed $10 trillion through midcentury, said Kerry. Sadly, the hype around the Paris climate accords covers up the brawl between fossil fuels and renewables. Team Biden is directing U.S. government money away from “carbon” coal, oil and gas to renewables. The Jan. 27 White House climate directive orders federal funding not to directly subsidize fossil fuels.   

It’s complicated, but renewable energy isn’t big enough or efficient enough to dominate the market itself yet, so it needs help. It requires tax incentives such as wind power production tax credits, recently extended by Congress. Your tax dollars are the only way to make “clean” energy cheaper right now.   

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5. Pushing Wall Street Money to Renewables 

Despite all this, it’s no secret that Kerry wants Wall Street money committed to climate goals.  Kerry has for years rallied Wall Street investors like Citigroup and Goldman Sachs to green energy. The recent climate policy actions by the White House plus the slew of incentives already in place aim to stimulate market demand for renewables. When you consider that Berkshire Hathaway owns 7% of the wind turbines in the U.S., it’s probably too late to stop this juggernaut. All that cash from globalization has to go somewhere. 

While I’m skeptical of Team Biden’s motives, there’s no doubt that most Americans really care about the environment and worry about climate change. I fear Team Biden is exploiting our genuine love for our environment in the USA to push an agenda that could hurt Americans. 

Why can’t Team Biden put some passion into longstanding problems, like cleaning up the Chesapeake Bay? Environmental action is hard, expensive work and many at the state and local level are striving to enact policies that keep tree cover and cherish watersheds.   

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As a senator, Biden preserved an exquisite piece of Delaware shoreline at Cape Henlopen State Park. I wish his administration would force more Chesapeake Bay cleanup, which involves tough action by Pennsylvania, Maryland and Virginia.   

You’d think Team Biden could pull that off. It would be a better use of time than chasing empty words from China.   

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