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It's all so simple

13 Mar 2024 | OP ED Watch

On the occasion of his retirement as US Climate Envoy John Kerry explains to the New York Times’ David Wallace-Wells that solving the climate crisis is simple, you just have to stop letting countries make their own decisions. “That is why I really believe Dubai was exciting and really different. In Paris we had to settle for every country going out and writing its own nationally determined contribution – a commitment to do only what it wanted to do.” But a bit of sleep-deprivation and browbeating can solve all that: “In Dubai we succeeded in the dead hours of night in getting people to sign off on the transition away from fossil fuel.” Alas, getting signatures from a room full of groggy delegates is one thing. Overcoming reality is turning out to be another.

Kerry laments:

“If we did the things we could do – that we know how to do, and that we have the technologies for – we could actually do it. We’re just not. We’re not doing it on a global basis. Emissions are going up in too many countries. Oil and gas are still on a binge and their profits are obscene. I mean they’re just shocking.”

Profits, shocking or otherwise, are the market’s way of signalling to corporations that the public wants what they’re producing, and specifically that they want the outputs more than the inputs. Likewise the bottomless losses associated with wind energy, solar panels and EVs are the not-so-subtle way that the market tells the would-be planners what people don’t want.

Alas, some people don’t open messages from the market. Asked about the failures of his vaunted transition, Kerry explained:

“It’s been disappointing because the countries have not followed through. But there’s no magic here. It is simple, it’s economics, it’s basic market forces and how they work. And the problem is that gas and oil right now are making humongous, gigantic, windfall profit, in the trillions. And the margin for solar and wind can’t compete with that.”

So maybe rather than condescension and hectoring, the political class could try, we don’t know, a bit of realism? No, Kerry will stick to condescension, telling Wallace-Wells the problem is:

“Greed in a lot of cases, the ease of business as usual in a lot of cases and some wishful thinking in a lot of cases. And then, in some cases, just lies – complete distortion paid for by those profits.”

Boo! Evil oil companies incinerate planet for filthy gain, abetted by venal lying deniers. Or might it have something to do with the basic economic facts that hydrocarbons work and unicorns don’t? Heck no. It’s that we need a tangled forest of pro-market subsidy intervention profit schemes:

“So the issue is: Can we go into Africa to try to find the projects that we think can be done and ought to be done, then get buy-in from the government that they’ll do certain things with respect to contracting, arbitration, law, currency certainty, maybe even guarantee something so that you can help attract the private capital? I don’t know any other way, honestly. I don’t know how you’re going to get the trillions moving in any other way. You’ve got to show that you can make a profit.”

If profits were a realistic prospect, you wouldn’t need all the other government planning mumbo jumbo. If they’re not, you don’t want it.

As for the China problem, here Kerry is an old hand at wishful thinking:

“We’ve almost had shouting matches a couple of times over it with the Chinese. But that doesn’t get you anywhere. You’ve got to kind of work it through. And China is now manufacturing and producing and deploying more renewables than the rest of the world put together. And I think it’s because they know they have this huge, huge cloud hanging over them in terms of their dependency on coal.”

What cloud? The Politburo has an explicit goal of becoming the world’s dominant nation by 2049, the 100th anniversary of the Communist revolution, and laying down the direction of world politics from 2050 on, when the West will have crippled itself. Sounds ominous, right?

Not to these guys. Wallace-Wells commented that “It’s sort of two stories at once: China the green behemoth, racing faster than everyone else, and China the coal behemoth, doing more damage than everyone else.” And Kerry took the cue:

“Correct – for now. But the International Energy Agency believes that they may well peak in the next couple of years. A lot of people think they may have peaked this year. And then the question is: Do they just go out and plateau, which was their original plan, or do they go down? Now, they’ve committed to go down. But this gets deeply into the human psyche. Why do people not do things that they know are good for them?”

Yeah, that’s a real head-scratcher. Here’s a thought: Because they don’t actually think it’s good for them. Because they don’t believe in global warming alarmism. And because they think that crippling their economy will not help them achieve their real goal of conquering the United States and becoming the dominant world superpower. So back to the dark conspiracy… and not out of Beijing:

“for the moment, the guys with the money are spending that money to scare people and to put out a false narrative. No surprise, they’ve been doing it for 70, 80 years, since propaganda was invented. How do I feel about it? I feel really pissed off and frustrated.”

That’s it, alas. We often assume that people in power are wiser, more sophisticated and more eloquent than they let on in public. But they’re not. What you see is what you get.

4 comments on “It's all so simple”

  1. "China is now manufacturing and producing and deploying more renewables than the rest of the world put together."
    I doubt that the reason for this is climate atruism on China's part. Consider instead that China has large amounts of coal but not much oil. You can generate electricity using coal, so the Chinese make as much as possible run on electricity, such as automobiles and trains. While they are at it they may as well generate some electricity from wind and solar, but this is only a tiny fraction of their overall power generation. Of course, with a population four times that of the US this will be quite a lot, but in terms of renewables per capita it isn't a significant amount.

  2. So guys with the money are spending that money to scare people and put out a false narrative,Herman Munster(aka John Kerry)?You must be talking
    about Climate Change Alarmism!And more and more people are waking up to the Big Lie,realizing there is no climate crisis.And that EV's and
    renewables are not the panacea they claim.They are our economic ruin,if allowed to run their course.

  3. Roger Graves, if it indeed is a fact that the CCP is producing and deploying more "renewables" than all the rest of the World put together then that it is, if anything, a testament to the lack of interest in "renewables" in most of the World. Besides, CCP doesn't mind exporting huge amounts "renewables" to the naïve West. Talk about selling someone the rope to hang them by...

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