Well, this is rich. The European Union is chastising the United States after Donald Trump’s “energy independence” executive order signed earlier this week, saying that it’s now up to the EU and China to take the lead on curbing global emissions. Reuters reports:
[European climate commissioner Miguel Arias Canete], speaking to reporters after meeting Chinese officials, expressed regret that the United States was rolling back climate policies, but said China and Europe remained committed to “driving forward” the global battle against climate change.
“We are not going to backslide even if the United States at the moment…is backsliding from its previous commitments,” he said.
There’s so much wrong with this posturing that it’s hard to know where to begin refuting it. Let’s start with the fact that a study was published this week that found that only three countries in all of Europe are actually following through on the climate commitments they made in Paris 15 months ago. It’s hard, then, to imagine how Canete was able to keep a straight face when admonishing the United States for “backsliding” from its Paris commitments.
Then, too, the notion that China is ready to take the lead on climate change is in itself laughable. The country’s own ministry for environmental protection is fighting a high-profile struggle with polluters who are serving up phony emissions data. How can China hope to stick to climate commitments when the data by which we’d measure that adherence is so fundamentally unreliable?
Finally, let’s consider the fact that Trump’s executive order didn’t meaningfully change the trajectory of U.S. emissions. Before Trump signed that document, the United States was already helping to keep global emissions relatively level (by reducing our own emissions 3 percent in 2016). Those reductions came about as a result of the shale boom, and Trump isn’t about to get in the way of that.