Sunday, September 5, 2021

GWPF Newsletter - China warns US: Back off or we’ll sink climate cooperation


Beijing demands US fulfil wish list in exchange for cooperation on climate change

In this newsletter:

1) China warns US: Back off or we’ll sink climate cooperation
GWPF, 2 September 2021
2) China tells U.S. prolonged tensions would hurt climate cooperation
Kyodo News, 2 September 2021

3) Beijing demands US fulfill wish list in exchange for cooperation on climate change
The Epoch Times, 2 September 2021
4) China's new U.S. ambassador warns of “disastrous consequences” if Biden administration violates Beijing’s “red lines” 
Politico, 1 September 2021
5) Climate policy with Chinese characteristics
Jordan McGillis, National Review 30 August 2021
6) Hurricane Ida, climate change, and falling trends in global deaths from natural disasters
Ronald Bailey, Reason online, 1 September 2021
7) Daniel Henninger: Why Hurricane Ida Wasn’t Katrina
The Wall Street Journal, 2 September 2021

Full details:

1) China warns US: Back off or we’ll sink climate cooperation
GWPF, 2 September 2021
There can be little doubt that America’s military and strategic failure in Afghanistan is having detrimental consequences for its global reputation and its  international climate diplomacy.

In the aftermath of Biden’s Afghanistan debacle his international standing and credibility is being challenged head on by China’s communist leaders.
Unsurprisingly, Biden’s credibility crisis is being exploited by China which is demanding that the US back off challenging China’s political and economic ambitions or face opposition to Biden’s climate agenda.

In a video meeting with US climate envoy John Kerry China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi warned that
"the US has made a major strategic misjudgment against China. Now that the ball is in the US court, the US should stop seeing China as a threat and opponent, and stop the whole world from besieging and suppressing China…”

The main problem a significantly weakened US administration now faces is that after the humiliating withdrawal from Afghanistan, Joe Biden and his climate envoy look rather weak.
Having made the climate and Net Zero agenda his key policy priority, Joe Biden is offering China’s leaders the opportunity to call his bluff and challenge the US head on.  

2) China tells U.S. prolonged tensions would hurt climate cooperation
Kyodo News, 2 September 2021
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi has told U.S. climate envoy John Kerry that prolonged tensions between the world’s two major powers would make it difficult for them to work together in the climate field, according to official Chinese media.
Wang’s remarks on Wednesday came as Beijing has been at odds with Washington over several issues, including its alleged human rights abuses in Xinjiang, the crackdown on freedoms in Hong Kong, and security challenges to Taiwan and the South China Sea.

Kerry, secretary of state under former President Barack Obama, has been in China’s Tianjin since Tuesday. He and Wang held talks by video link, Xinhua News Agency reported.
The United States had described climate change cooperation as an “oasis” of China-U.S. relations, but if it is all surrounded by deserts, then sooner or later the oasis will turn to desert, Wang was quoted by Xinhua as telling Kerry.

China-U.S. cooperation on climate change serves the interests of both sides and the world as well as enjoying broad development prospects, but such cooperation cannot be sustained without an improvement in bilateral relations, Wang said.

Wang also urged the United States to stop viewing China as a threat and rival, cease containing and suppressing the Asian nation, and take concrete steps to improve ties, according to Xinhua.

Kerry told Wang that the United States is willing to join hands with China to enhance dialogue, demonstrate leadership and set an example for meeting goals under the 2015 Paris Agreement.

Full story
3) Beijing demands US fulfill wish list of demands in exchange for cooperation on climate change
The Epoch Times, 2 September 2021
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi gave U.S. climate envoy John Kerry a set of instructions that the United States should follow if the Biden administration seeks Beijing’s cooperation on climate change.

U.S. Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry is seen on a screen with Chinese State Councillor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi during a meeting via video link on Sept. 1, 2021. (U.S. Department of State/Handout via Reuters)
Kerry is currently on the second leg of his Asia trip for negotiations on climate action. He first traveled to Japan before arriving in the Chinese port city of Tianjin on Aug. 31 for a three-day visit. He is scheduled to meet with Xie Zhenhua, China’s special envoy for climate change affairs.
On Sept. 1, Kerry and Wang held a virtual meeting to discuss bilateral cooperation on climate change. During the talks, Wang mixed in the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP’s) wider political concerns, and warned Kerry that “China-U.S. climate cooperation cannot be separated from the wider environment of the Sino-U.S. relations,” according to a statement from China’s foreign ministry.
Wang blamed the United States for deteriorating Sino-U.S. relations in recent years and urged America to “stop seeing China as a threat and rival.”
As for how to improve bilateral relations, Wang demanded that Kerry “pay attention to and pro-actively respond to China’s ‘two lists’ and ‘three bottom lines.’”

Wang was referring to the lists and three demands that Beijing handed to U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman in late July when she visited Tianjin. One of the lists asked the United States to correct its “wrongdoings,” including revoking its sanctions on CCP officials, which were announced by the United States in response to widely reported human rights abuses.

Among its demands, the CCP requires the United States not to “infringe” upon China’s “sovereignty” in the troubled regions of Xinjiang, Tibet, and Hong Kong. Many Western governments, including the United States, have called out the CCP for its human rights violations in these three regions, particularly over the detention of more than 1 million Uyghurs in Xinjiang.

Wang had listed the same requirements to Secretary of State Anthony Blinken days earlier, when the two discussed bilateral cooperation on Afghanistan over the phone.

Full story
4) China's new U.S. ambassador warns of “disastrous consequences” if Biden administration violates Beijing’s “red lines” 
Politico, 1 September 2021
Qin Gang warns of “disastrous consequences” if the U.S. seeks to suppress China using a “Cold War playbook.”

China’s newly minted ambassador to the United States arrived only in July, but the honeymoon is already over. Qin Gang on Tuesday reinforced his reputation as a sharp-edged avatar of Chinese diplomacy with a speech that excoriated U.S. “wrong beliefs” and cautioned against violating Beijing’s “red line” of core interests in areas including the South China Sea, Taiwan and Xinjiang.
In his most substantive public statement yet, Qin pointed ominously to China’s nuclear weapons capability and warned of “disastrous consequences” if the U.S. seeks to suppress China using a “Cold War playbook.”

Speaking via video link to a select audience of China wonks and foreign policy heavyweights — including Henry Kissinger, former U.S. ambassador to Beijing Stapleton Roy and former assistant secretary of State for East Asian Affairs, Susan Thornton — China’s ambassador said those who argue his country would meet the same fate as the former Soviet Union show a “serious ignorance of history and China.”

Qin’s speech at the National Committee on U.S.-China Relations underscores his history as an early pioneer of the aggressive “wolf warrior” style of diplomacy that is increasingly defining Beijing’s approach to the United States and the world.
As a Foreign Ministry spokesperson from 2005-2010, he would mock members of the media, once telling a journalist “not to report based on your delusions.” In February as vice foreign minister, he responded to a journalist’s query about “wolf warrior” diplomacy by excoriating “evil wolves” for negative reporting about China.
Full story
5) Climate policy with Chinese characteristics
Jordan McGillis, National Review 30 August 2021

Xi Jinping’s emissions-trading scheme shows no indication that it will curb the country’s growing appetite for coal, oil, or natural gas — but it was never meant to.
As planned, China’s new emissions-trading scheme (ETS) is doing nothing to reduce its emissions.
Launched in July, the ETS encompasses 2,200 companies that operate coal- and natural-gas-fired power plants — facilities responsible for 40 percent of China’s total greenhouse-gas emissions. It builds upon pilot programs in seven delimited regions — including Beijing, Shanghai, and Chongqing — that began in 2013.
On the opening trading day, July 16, 2021, allowances to emit one ton of carbon dioxide swapped for between 50 and 53 yuan ($7.72 to $8.18), roughly equal to the cost of permits in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, in which eleven states along the U.S. Atlantic Coast participate. By August 20, prices had dropped to 49 yuan, or $7.57.

At $7.57, the permit trading price is 84 percent lower than the International Monetary Fund (IMF) estimates would be necessary to effectively drive down China’s emissions.

The foremost problem with China’s ETS, however, is not the price at which permits are trading. Instead, the problem is that the plan revolves around “emissions intensity” — a term of art denoting the ratio of emissions to power generation — rather than around absolute volumes of emissions.
China’s scheme allocates tradable permits free of charge to existing power entities as a function of their operations’ emissions intensity and historical power output. The plan places no firm upper bound on the sector’s emissions, nor does it set a timetable for doing so. According to the International Carbon Action Partnership, an intergovernmental climate-policy monitoring group, the nominal cap will be adjusted ex post facto based on actual power-production levels.
While the ETS does introduce an incentive for companies to generate lower-emissions electricity, climate change is precipitated by absolute volumes, not by ratios. This structure guarantees that the power sector’s cumulative emissions will continue to increase.
“Unlike other ETSs,” writes Carbon Brief’s Hongqiao Liu, “the Chinese scheme does not currently put a fixed cap on emissions, nor promises a declining cap over time. Therefore, it is not guaranteed to cut carbon.”
Whereas programs such as the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative and the European Union ETS have firm emissions limits for the sectors they cover and offer fewer permits over time, China’s scheme takes the “cap” out of “cap-and trade.” In so doing, it grants its sanction to the Chinese power sector’s continued emissions increases.

“The current design, this intensity-based target that you allow emissions to increase, that is not very helpful,” says Yan Qin, economist and lead carbon analyst at Refinitiv.

However much the scheme may have been hailed, this emperor wears no clothes. Even if we account for an intensity-based system’s low expectations, China’s ETS will encounter another set of hurdles around compliance and enforcement.

China differs from the countries and subnational regions that have implemented emissions trading in that its political system begets corruption. According to Transparency International’s 2020 Corruption Perceptions Index, China ranks below 77 other countries, including places such as Cuba and Belarus.
Full post
6) Hurricane Ida, climate change, and falling trends in global deaths from natural disasters
Ronald Bailey, Reason online, 1 September 2021
The risk of dying from extreme weather since the 1920s has dropped by 99.75 percent.

Hurricane Ida rapidly spun itself up to a Category 4 tropical cyclone—maximum sustained winds at 150 miles per hour—just before it made landfall on the coast of Louisiana on Sunday morning. Such rapid intensification is consistent with the effects of man-made climate change on hurricanes. The recently released Sixth Assessment Report (AR6) from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change noted, "It is likely that the proportion of major (Category 3–5) tropical cyclones (TCs) and the frequency of rapid TC intensification events have increased over the past four decades."

Contrarily, recent research does not yet detect a significant increase in the intensity or frequency of Atlantic hurricanes striking the United States. Some researchers suspect that particulate air pollution combined with natural variation suppressed hurricane activity in the North Atlantic during the mid-20th century.
On the other hand, the AR6 projects that "the total global frequency of TC formation will decrease or remain unchanged with increasing global warming (medium confidence). Basically, as a result of man-made warming, hurricanes and cyclones are expected to become fewer but more intense.

As the world continues to warm, the AR6 forecasts that "the proportion of intense TCs, average peak TC wind speeds, and peak wind speeds of the most intense TCs will increase on the global scale with increasing global warming (high confidence)." In addition, tropical cyclones appear to be becoming wetter. "Available event attribution studies of observed strong TCs provide medium confidence for a human contribution to extreme TC rainfall," observes the AR6. Why? Because, among other things, near-surface atmospheric moisture content increases by about 7 percent for every 1 degree celsius increase in warming.

Hurricane Ida and its remnants have so far knocked out electricity to around 1 million homes and businesses and killed 6 people. In contrast to the Hurricane Katrina disaster (1,833 deaths) 16 years ago, New Orleans' massively upgraded levees held, so the Big Easy escaped inundation this time. The protection afforded by the improved levees is an example of how increasing wealth and technological prowess over the past couple of centuries is enabling more and more of humanity to survive natural disasters.

Even as the world population nearly quadrupled, the global natural disaster death rates have plummeted, according to Our World In Data.


In fact, the annual number of people dying as a result of natural disasters has fallen by about 90 percent over the past century:


Deaths from weather and climatological events like floods and droughts have especially steeply declined over the past century. As University of Colorado environmental studies professor Roger Pielke, Jr. tweeted:


We may not be any better at preventing extreme weather events, but we are much better at surviving them.

7) Daniel Henninger: Why Hurricane Ida Wasn’t Katrina
The Wall Street Journal, 2 September 2021
The low death toll in Louisiana this week is a revealing but cautionary American success story.

The news cycle has become a hurricane, blowing away reality every 24 hours. Before Hurricane Ida, it was Kabul. Before Kabul it was the earthquake in Haiti, which occurred less than three weeks ago but got pushed aside despite more than 2,000 deaths. Before Haiti it was the million-migrant crisis on the southern border, said to be caused in part by two hurricanes that devastated Central America last year. The Biden White House hopes memories of Kabul will also blow away soon.

Hurricane Ida demands a moment of reflection before it evaporates from the news. It is in important ways an American success story.
Louisiana remembered the lesson of history. In 2005, Hurricane Katrina killed some 1,800 people in several states. Hurricane Ida, of nearly equal strength, has killed about six. One word defines the difference between the mortality then and now: infrastructure.
Joe Biden’s weeks of negotiations with Republicans made infrastructure a household word, despite Mr. Biden creating confusion over the difference between “real” and “human” infrastructure.
What saved human lives in Louisiana was real infrastructure—an extraordinary $14.5 billion concrete-and-steel project, funded by Congress, called the Hurricane and Storm Damage Risk Reduction System. Built by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, with the advice of several private Dutch engineering firms, it is a 133-mile-long system of elevated levees, breakwalls, floodgates and pumping stations.

This was a government project—at the federal, state and local level—that worked. Yes, incredible to think, it can happen, and should more often but doesn’t seem to anymore.

Despite Ida’s massive power outages and wind destruction, Louisiana has just proved that real infrastructure is an expensive necessity. Without it—as Haiti, Honduras and other mismanaged countries have shown—people die by the thousands.

In a time of political polarization, no one disagrees that the U.S. needs to fix its highways, bridges, dams, electrical grid, cybersecurity and water systems. Also in and out of the news is that the negotiated $1 trillion infrastructure bill, for all its shortcomings, is hostage to the Biden-Pelosi insistence that Congress also pass a $3.5 trillion bill to build a “human infrastructure” system of subsidized nannies, a civilian climate corps and the like.
That political overreach means that the chances of soon building more of the kind of real infrastructure that just protected Louisiana are slim.

Mr. Biden and the Democrats are explicit that higher taxes must be imposed, initially on corporations and capital gains, to accomplish their human-infrastructure goals and subsidize any idea they define as necessary to produce a net-zero-carbon economy.

Even if one concedes that climate-mitigation strategies are needed to protect against rising sea levels, the demonstrable problem is that the Democrats cannot establish priorities or be trusted to spend tax revenue to construct anything without grossly wasting productive capital.

The Biden-Pelosi-Schumer-Yellen redefinition of infrastructure to mean all public spending would turn the U.S. Treasury into a sump pump, draining away the country’s supply of private capital to support such nongermane ideas as an Office of Climate Change and Health Equity.
Another prerequisite of getting the protective infrastructure the U.S. needs is governments that are competent and willing to include private know-how and capital in their projects.

New York, California and Illinois—all important to a functional national infrastructure network—are incompetent, inefficient and often corrupt. Louisiana’s new levee system may have cost $14.5 billion, but New York’s 2-mile Second Avenue subway extension, begun in the 1970s, cost about $3.5 billion per mile of track.

Louisiana’s oft-derided political class can save New Orleans, but New York’s cannot rebuild its own metropolitan region. The projected cost of the Northeast region’s Gateway Project to rebuild tunnels, bridges and train lines is $30 billion, at best. It has little congressional support because the region’s political class has minimal credibility. The cost of maintaining their blue-state public sectors—unions, welfare, rampant insiderism—is so large that little tax revenue is left for physical infrastructure, which degrades.

It’s not unlike the politics that destroy a place like Haiti. The images of post-earthquake Haiti were wrenching to see. The damaged houses looked so poorly built. The world stared, wishing something could be done. But almost nothing has been done in decades for the tens of thousands of Americans living in the falling-apart public residences of the New York City Housing Authority. So much for human infrastructure.

In his depressing Afghanistan speech Tuesday, Mr. Biden delivered a denunciation of “nation building.” Which I translate as: tough luck, not our problem. But once past Afghanistan and Haiti, the news hurricane in time is going to bring awful images of human desperation somewhere else. Changing the channel to Netflix is morally corrosive.

The U.S. survives the blows it gets, such as Hurricane Ida, because we live in a free market of free people that produces the wealth and knowledge to build systems of self-preservation. The American model is a successful idea, not a war, and unlike Mr. Biden or the fellow he calls his “predecessor,” we should not be hesitant to export it.

The London-based Global Warming Policy Forum is a world leading think tank on global warming policy issues. The GWPF newsletter is prepared by Director Dr Benny Peiser - for more information, please visit the website at

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