Good listen: The most recent podcast of The President's Inbox, from the Council on Foreign Relations, is a sharp but wide-ranging conversation about the politics and substance of President Trump's decision to bail on the Paris climate accord.
Some points about China: Veteran energy analyst Michael Levi, who is a former Obama aide now with ClearView Energy Partners, says:
- "At some level the United States . . . has made the bar so low for China to claim that mantle of leadership that it can now look, to the rest of the world, as a leader without really stepping up its game."
- "At a minimum, what we should have wanted was to put China in a position where it had to step up its game a lot further to get that mantle. Now...if Chinese leadership wants to, it can continue to do roughly what it's doing and it will still get the global diplomatic benefit of being able to tell others that it is doing more than the United States."
Context: Levi (and others) note that China's steps on low-carbon energy are largely driven by forces other than climate, such as domestic pressure over terrible air pollution — he argues that China's greenhouse gas pledges do not represent "really hard choices."
Plus: Regardless of the Paris pact, China already dominates growth in renewables, moving past the U.S. to become the world's largest producer of renewable power, accounting for 40% of global growth last year, according to BP's big annual energy data and trends report.
Yes, but: Deep into this MIT Technology Review interview with Apple's Tim Cook, there's a somewhat rosier view of the idea that the Paris deal is pushing China beyond what the country would be doing anyway.
- "We are putting a huge two-gigawatt solar facility in China, and they've been incredibly receptive to it. We feel that one of the things that has increased the receptivity was the Paris agreement," the Apple CEO notes. "They've decided they are going to make a significant reduction in carbon."