Blinken says US falling behind China as global leader on climate change

Antony Blinken at NATO meeting
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Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Monday said the U.S. is falling behind China on being a global leader in confronting climate change, part of a push by the Biden administration to invest in infrastructure and technology as a national security and environmental imperative.

“It’s difficult to imagine the United States winning the long term strategic competition with China if we cannot lead the renewable energy revolution. Right now, We’re falling behind,” Blinken said in remarks delivered at the Chesapeake Bay Foundation headquarters in Annapolis, Maryland.

The Biden administration has identified China as the greatest national security challenge of the 21st century and the president has warned that China’s President Xi Jinping views autocracy as the wave of the future.

Blinken warned that China’s distinction as the largest producer and exporter of renewable energy technology — like solar panels, wind turbines, batteries, electric vehicles and holding a third of renewable energy patents — threatens the stake of the U.S. in these markets.

“If we don’t catch up, America will miss the chance to shape the world’s climate future in a way that reflects our interests and values, and we’ll lose out on countless jobs for the American people,” Blinken said.

Blinken’s speech served as an introduction ahead of President Biden virtually hosting 40 world leaders — including the Chinese leader – this week for a global summit on climate change, expected to take place on April 22 and 23.

The secretary’s remarks also fall in line with the Biden administration’s efforts to better sell to middle-class Americans the benefit of U.S. engagement on the world stage with allies and in multilateral organizations.

It is an effort to counter former President Trump’s “America First” foreign policy that was critical of cooperating in global forums and often relied on bilateral, often transactional agreements to achieve policy goals.

Blinken’s speech also underscored the push by the administration to invest $2 trillion domestically in infrastructure and technology, as a way to reduce the U.S.’s own greenhouse gas emissions and become a leader in the export of such products and technologies to other countries.

“Every country on the planet has to do two things – reduce emissions and prepare for the unavoidable impacts of climate change. American innovation and industry can be at the forefront of both,” Blinken said, adding that by 2040, the world will face a $4.6 trillion infrastructure gap in this area.

Blinken said the administration is putting the “climate crisis” at the center of its foreign policy and national security, and that the first priority is to prevent catastrophe and natural disasters, which contribute to humanitarian crises, are drivers of migration and contribute to armed conflict.

“We’re rooting for every country, business and community to get better at cutting emissions and building resilience. But that doesn’t mean we don’t have a stake in America, developing these innovations and exporting them to the world. And it doesn’t mean we don’t want to shape the way countries reduce their emissions and adapt to climate change,” he said.

But he added that the U.S. leading on the global stage against climate change will also benefit American workers and businesses.

“Let me be clear: Goal number one of our climate policy is preventing catastrophe… But that doesn’t mean we don’t have a stake in America developing those innovations and exporting them to the world. And it doesn’t mean we don’t have a stake in the way countries reduce their emissions and adapt to climate change.”

The Biden administration has identified making progress on global goals of reducing green-house gas emissions as center of the president’s agenda and appointed a special presidential envoy on climate, former secretary of State in the Obama administration, John Kerry.

Biden also rejoined the Paris Climate Accords on his first day in office, reversing Trump’s decision to leave the non-binding agreement in November.

Tags Antony Blinken Climate change climate crisis Donald Trump Environmental policy of the Joe Biden administration Foreign policy of the Joe Biden administration Joe Biden John Kerry

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