Climate policies propel a growing dysfunction of Western democracies
While President Biden continues trying to persuade Congress and the American people that his multitrillion-dollar economic proposals actually cost “nothing” because they are “paid for” by tax increases, he has joined other Western leaders in making even more dubious financial assertions about the economic viability of the commitments publicly announced at the COP26 Summit in Glasgow.
What the celebratory and self-congratulatory mood on display at the summit concealed was a collective descent into unreality and self-deception on the part of the world’s democracies that has been gathering momentum throughout the previous 25 COP summits, beginning in 1992. The implications for the future are at once enormous and ominous. Walter Russell Mead, in a column for the Wall St. Journal, stated that “the intellectual and political disarray on display in Glasgow was terrifying.” Describing how politicians from 190 countries, manifesting a worldwide groupthink on climate, committed their countries to “carefully crafted unenforceable pledges,” Mead concluded that “our problem is not that the climate is changing. It is that the world is becoming unmanageable.”
A stunning example of the disconnect between climate rhetoric and reality occurred when U.S. climate czar John Kerry assured those who convened for President Biden’s Leaders Summit on Climate in April: “No one is being asked for a sacrifice. This is an opportunity.” Kerry ignored the March report of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IREA), which bluntly stated $131 trillion would need to be spent on clean technologies by 2050 to meet current climate goals. At the same time, the Wall St. Journal reported that economists and climate analysts alike insist that sharply reducing emissions would entail “staggering costs and looming political battles.”
The near theological fervor and indifference to economic realities with which progressives are driving climate policy in the United States could rapidly lead to economic calamities that are already engulfing Europe. Within the United Kingdom and the European Union, the green revolution has dealt devastating blows to national economies, resulting in acute energy shortages and soaring prices. Feckless political leaders have tried to justify the hardships they are inflicting on their people by claiming that such sacrifices are needed to “save the planet” — albeit without conclusive scientific evidence to support this assertion.
To accommodate the “greens” in her ruling coalition, Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel delivered on a promise to eliminate all German nuclear power plants by 2020, which not only dramatically increased electricity prices but also strongly predisposed her to support Russia’s Nord Stream 2 pipeline to bring natural gas directly to Germany. The Wall St. Journal’s Allysia Finley points out in her commentary, “Climate Policy Meets Cold Reality,” that across Europe hundreds of coal plants have been shut down over the past decade. Britain has only two plants remaining, and Spain shut down half its coal plants last summer — all of this occurring while China and India continue to build new coal-fired power plants.
As further examples of Europe’s self-inflicted wounds regarding energy, Britain has banned fracking and Germany did the same through at least this year. The Netherlands has agreed to shut down Europe’s largest gas field by 2022. Not surprisingly, these moves have helped to support surging natural gas and coal prices.
In the United States, the Biden administration is doing its best to imitate the worst of Europe’s disastrous climate policies. By canceling the Keystone XL pipeline, stopping drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, raising costs for energy leases to drill on federal land and curtailing offshore drilling, the administration has unapologetically launched an undeclared war on the fossil fuel industry — one of the most vibrant sectors of the U.S. economy upon which millions of the best-paying jobs in America depend.
That all of this should be happening at the same time as the pandemic has ravaged Western economies, with on again, off again lockdowns that hurt working-class families, should be a clear message to all that the integrity of Western democracy is seriously at risk.
William Moloney is a Fellow in Conservative Thought at Colorado Christian University’s Centennial Institute who studied at Oxford and the University of London and received his doctorate from Harvard University. He is a former Colorado Commissioner of Education.