In the Race for ‘Climate Leadership,’ Everyone’s a Loser | Opinion

Newsweek

Last year, Joe Biden campaigned on the promise that America would lead the world in the fight against climate change. At home, his climate plan in the Build Back Better bill is stalled in the Senate, and his election pledge to legislate a net-zero enforcement mechanism by the end of his first term has gone nowhere. Aspirations to climate leadership are faring little better in Europe. In April, Germany’s constitutional court ruled that its 2050 net-zero target was so distant that it violated the freedoms of young people.

So, along with Sweden, Germany became the first country to legislate a 2045 net-zero target. Yet the new German government’s net-zero plan, as outlined in the coalition agreement, may as well have been designed to worsen Europe’s current energy crisis and sink its largest and most successful economy. Notes energy expert Lucian Pugliaresi, Germany’s energy policy initiatives «will not be sufficient to meet demand for electricity in Germany in 2030». That means higher natural gas prices across northern Europe, and a continent more dependent for its energy on a dangerous geopolitical rival.

The biggest disappointment among would-be climate leaders so far has been the host of the recent U. Britain made its bid for climate leadership in the waning days of the premiership of Johnson’s predecessor in the summer of 2019. After a 90-minute debate in the House of Commons, with no cost estimates and no vote, Britain became the first major country to write net zero into law. A small clique of politicians close to the outgoing prime minister seized on the prospect of Britain winning the presidency of the 2020 UN climate conference to save face post-Brexit. One of them, former energy secretary Amber Rudd, told Politico that she thought it would «help bind the U. closer to the EU» on climate and energy.

By its end, UN secretary general António Guterres had declared 1.5 «on life support» and the British president of the conference was fighting back tears. Better, by far, to be an energy realist like Norway. A week before the Glasgow conference, newly elected prime minister Jonas Gahr Store defended Norway’s production of oil and gas because both are needed for the transition to net zero. In October, the Japanese cabinet approved a plan prioritizing energy security.

«No compromise is acceptable to ensure energy security,» it said. If Congress lets them, Joe Biden and John Kerry would make that America’s priority, too.

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Source: Rupert Darwall | Newsweek

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