By Michael Geary, October 29, 2021
This weekend President Biden will fly to Glasgow, Scotland to join the echo chamber that is the United Nation’s Climate Change Conference (COP26). One of the conference’s primary topics will be “accelerating the global transition to clean energy.” “Renewables by any means necessary” would be a better war cry. Renewables over cost, renewables over reliability, renewables over the economy, renewables over military readiness, and renewables over science. Proponents of “renewables only, renewables now,” don’t consider emerging technologies like carbon capture or affordable energy sources like natural gas as clean energy, thus making it nearly impossible for others to come to the table and negotiate reasonable decarbonization timelines. Such timelines would allow reliable low carbon technology to develop and work alongside renewables. But the “clean energy” movement is uninterested as it hovers closer to cult than policy. It has charismatic leaders who declare we only have 12 years until doomsday and who believe the true path forward lies in the Green New Deal (GND) and the Clean Energy Performance Plan (CEPP), with no room for dissent or questions. These are the predominant ideas that will lead the discussion in Glasgow.
But outside of the Glasgow bubble lies the real world, in which the leader of the world’s largest polluter, China’s President Xi Jinping, will not be attending the conference in person, but instead is ramping up coal imports from another non-attendee, Russia. Russia’s President, Vladimir Putin, said he can’t make the conference as a precautionary measure against COVID-19. All the while, as stated in our latest TxEnergyUpdate, the Kremlin is becoming a fossil fuel juggernaut, supplying non-renewables to China and Europe.
The clean energy blind faith has struck at home as well. U.S. gas prices hit a seven year high after President Biden’s plea to OPEC to ramp up oil production fell on deaf ears, which then forced him to turn to U.S. oil and gas companies to increase supply and keep prices in check. On top of Americans taking a hit at the pump, it also looks like most Americans will have higher heating bills this winter. The U.S. Energy Information Administration reported that homes that use gas heaters could see their bills jump by 30%, while heating units fueled by oil and propane have the potential to raise bills by 54% and 43%, respectively.
The conference’s program will also allocate time to discuss gender in climate change, with the program describing the event as “progressing gender equality and the full and meaningful participation of women and girls in climate action.” All of which simply serves to underscore that there’s never been a starker difference between the romantic climate change policies that politicians and experts will discuss at COP26, and the real-world geopolitical consequences and challenges the world faces. If world leaders want to make use of their time in Glasgow, they should discuss slowing down the decarbonization process rather than rushing it; rushing it will continue to strain global supply chains and economies, and will only empower countries that play by their own rules, like Russia and China.