Maybe the most laughable reaction to Donald Trump's pulling out of the Paris climate accord came from European and Chinese leaders who blasted Trump and America for "surrendering its world leadership" role. The sanctimonious leaders of Asian and European nations pledged to move full speed ahead on clean energy without the United States. Be my guest.
But we've been to this movie before. The Europeans were all in on the Kyoto Protocol deal back in 2005 — an international treaty the U.S. rightly rejected. Euroland promised a massive shift to green energy and to abandon fossil fuels to dramatically reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. But guess what? The green energy revolution was a bust. None of these countries came close to meeting those targets. Now these nations, especially Germany, are moving away from the saintly clean energy sources.
They say they are solemnly committed to a new treaty — but if they violated the last one, why would we believe them now?
Even more amazing and underreported is that the United States — even though we did not make a pledge to reduce our greenhouse gases in accord with that treaty — has reduced its carbon emissions more than some of the European signatories.
Contrary to the flood of insults directed at the Trump administration, the U.S. is not the bad actor on the world stage when it comes to environmental protection. We are the world leader in environmental stewardship, and our energy use, as a share of the economy, continues to shrink.
An even more preposterous claim is that China — the largest polluter by far — and India are moving away from fossil fuels and transitioning to wind and solar power.
No, they are not. Here is what The Wall Street Journal reported in a November story about China and India "doubling down" on fossil fuel use: "China's government said it would raise coal power capacity by as much as 20% by 2020, ensuring a continuing strong role for the commodity in the country's energy sector despite a pledge to bring down pollution levels. In a new five-year plan for electricity ... the National Energy Administration said it would raise coal-fired power capacity from around 900 gigawatts last year to as high as 1,100 gigawatts by 2020."
Wait. We are going to be lectured by these nations about saving the planet? This is like taking a lesson in personal hygiene from Pig-Pen (my favorite Peanuts character).
We should have learned by now that with foreign nations, you always have to watch what they do, not listen to what they say. China isn't interested in reducing pollution levels. It is hyper-focused on one goal: gaining global dominance in every industry and using the cheapest and most reliable energy sources possible to get there. China and Europe want the U.S. to transition to more expensive energy sources — in no small part because they want to regain the competitiveness they lost due to their own green energy policies.
The press is also having a field day with the story that Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla and SolarCity, has resigned from a Trump economic advisory council out of protest. But Musk, according to the Los Angeles Times, has received almost $5 billion in government subsidies. SolarCity and Tesla are likely out of business without all the taxpayer-funded green handouts. Why doesn't the press report that Musk has a multibillion-dollar personal stake in global warming?
America has at least 200 years of shale gas, which is clean burning, efficient and made in America. We have 500 years of coal, and the emissions of pollutants from coal plants have fallen by more than 50% in recent decades. Clean coal is here, and rather than shut down this industry and put tens of thousands more coal miners in unemployment lines, we should allow technology and innovation to make it cleaner still through gasification, carbon capture and so on.
Because of stunning advances in drilling technologies, the value of American oil, gas and coal resources that are currently recoverable is estimated at near $50 trillion — which is more than double our national debt. The Paris climate accord would require America to keep this massive treasure chest of resources in the ground, never to be used.
Sadly, President Barack Obama negotiated a treaty that accommodated the economic interests of our rivals and put America last. Trump's gutsy decision puts America on the path to becoming the global energy superpower in the decades to come and puts American workers first.
This piece originally appeared in The Investor's Business Daily.