ICYMI: Barrasso Pens Op-Ed: No More Free Climate Rides for China

December 13, 2023

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, in an op-ed for the Washington Examiner, U.S. Senator John Barrasso (R-WY), ranking member of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources (ENR), outlined how the Biden administration has allowed China to manipulate international climate agreements to gain an unfair economic edge. Read the full op-ed here and below. 

No more free climate rides for China
December 13, 2023

Washington Examiner

President Joe Biden’s climate envoy John Kerry told the COP-28 climate conference this month that there shouldn’t be any more coal power plants permitted “anywhere in the world.” He followed that up by announcing the United States would join an alliance of countries pledging to stop generating electricity using coal.

Guess who won’t be joining that group? China. As even Kerry recognizes, China continues to build coal plants with abandon.

This is standard operating procedure under Democratic administrations: China manipulates the international climate process for its own ends, and condescending snobs such as Kerry help them get away with it.

As former President Barack Obama’s secretary of state, Kerry was one of the main architects of the Paris Agreement. He called that agreement “the turning point in the fight against climate change.” In reality, this one-sided agreement helped China’s economy and hurt ours.

Arguably, the agreement’s chief flaw is that it accepts the principle of “common but differentiated responsibilities.” This arbitrary framework leaves developing countries with few obligations to act — unless they are paid by developed countries. Meanwhile, countries such as the U.S. are required to adopt expensive and completely unrealistic commitments that damage our economies.

When the Paris Agreement was signed in 2015, China was the world’s second-largest economy and largest carbon emitter. Since then, China has added 233 gigawatts of coal-fired capacity — 27% more than the entire U.S. coal fleet. Last year alone, it permitted two coal plants each and every week.

No one should be surprised when China (or any nation) invests in energy from coal. It is safe, reliable, and affordable. All China is doing is taking advantage of the international framework Kerry created. With none of the obligations other wealthy nations have burdened themselves with, China’s leaders chose to put energy access and economic prosperity ahead of climate change.

Meanwhile, Kerry and Biden are pushing America-last energy policies that raise prices and undermine security here at home. They’ve limited energy production on public lands and waters. They’ve encouraged the premature closure of reliable and affordable energy sources. They’ve discouraged investment and development of those same sources. This is an agenda for American energy scarcity and dependence.

Our families need an agenda built on American energy abundance. It would boost the economy, enhance security, and bring down prices. It relies on a great American strength: abundant resources. My home state of Wyoming, for example, is America’s energy breadbasket. It offers coal, oil, natural gas, nuclear, wind, solar, and more.

A sound and strategic energy policy would unleash all forms of American energy so that families benefit. It would also put an end to China’s continued status as a developing country.

That’s why the Senate unanimously adopted an amendment instructing the administration to begin the process of removing China from the ranks of developing countries in the Montreal Protocol. Shamefully, instead of pushing back against Chinese duplicity, the Biden administration has been busy undermining the all-of-the-above energy strategy that made America an energy superpower.

Nowhere is the administration’s anti-American energy policy more apparent than in the president’s reckless tax and spending spree. Legislation pushed by Biden and approved by Democrats last year shifts the U.S. from energy independence to energy and mineral dependence on China, Russia, and OPEC. The Chinese coal plants Kerry objects to are powering the mines and factories producing the critical minerals, solar panels, batteries, and electric car components that the Biden administration is subsidizing with American taxpayer dollars.

When it comes to climate change, communist China is playing the Biden administration for fools. China is bent on global domination. It’s the world’s second-largest economy and largest carbon dioxide emitter. It’s America’s chief economic and geopolitical rival. It exploits forced labor. It manipulates global markets. It steals our technology and is preparing for an invasion of Taiwan.

China should not get special treatment in international climate agreements. No more free rides for cheating, communist China. That should be non-negotiable.

John Barrasso is Wyoming's senior U.S. senator.