President Obama has just crushed the premium GOP talking point on climate action, and he's crushed it like a bug. And they mad.
The Republicans have thus far had an easy if unintelligent talking point against the United States taking action to reduce carbon emissions. The developing world - mainly China - is hungry for more energy, and they are going to burn all the fossil fuel they need to continue their economic expansions, argued the GOP, so even if the 97% of climate scientists are right about man-made climate change (and you know, that's a big if), so cracking down on emissions at home would only put America at a disadvantage in the global economic competition. That's the real job-killing agenda of the mulato in White House whose record thus far includes roughly 10.6 million new private sector jobs since the end of the Bush recession, said the GOP. CHINA MUST BE ON BOARD, they yelled, hoping it never will.
Well, the President has just devastated that calculation. The White House announced yesterday that President Obama and Chinese Premier Xi have reached an agreement that requires big actions on the part of both of the world's leading economies to address carbon emissions and climate change. China has agreed to produce 20% of its energy needs from zero-emission sources (solar, nuclear, wind, and hydro) and peak its carbon emissions by 2030, and the United States will cut emissions to roughly 25% below 2005 levels in the same time-frame.
Right now, China is by far the biggest consumer of carbon, but according to data compiled from the Department of Energy and published by the Union of Concerned Scientists, China is no match for the United States - indeed, the western world - when it comes to per-capita emissions. Each American on average burns 17.62 metric tons of carbon per year, each Chinese only 6.52. Before the insane "What about India???" questions, consider that Indians burn only 1.45 metric tons of carbon per year.
You can kill GOP talking points, but you can't keep them from lying. Republicans are ticked off that the black guy is adding yet another feather to the cap of a historically successful presidency. So they went straight to the lies. Speaker Boehner was too drunk to make a coherent statement beyond the same gobbledy-gook about "job killer", but Senate Republicans are flexing their muscles and spreading bull manure.
No, Senators. You haven't read the agreement. Because if you had, you would know that China is required to produce 20% of its total energy from zero-emission sources by 2030. Today that number is roughly 7%, according to the US Energy Information Administration. Unless Senators Turtle and Inhofe are making the argument that tripling the share of zero-emission energy sources in 16 years is "doing nothing" (and really, they should know about doing nothing), they're flat out lying about the agreement (or about having read it). Peaking in 2030 also requires China to plan further reductions now, since without action, there is no peaking.
As a matter of fact, it actually will require the United States to do not that much more than we are already doing. The White House pointed out that the EPA has already released proposed guidelines to reduce power plant emissions to 30% below 2005 levels by 2030.
The beauty of the agreement that President Obama crafted is, however, that it can go into effect even as Congress goes on its merry way of obstructionism. It does not require Congressional approval, and the power to make those changes rests in the executive branch. And so, administration officials gave the GOP's climate deniers the finger.
The Obama presidency, from day one, has been about doing big things, making big differences, and making history. His presidency has never been about small bickering, or about babying adults in DC who act like petulant children.
Regardless of how much the media and the Republicans would like to convince the American people - and history itself - that Barack Obama is a weak global leader, the facts keep turning out to be exactly the opposite. Presidents have tried before to bring China on board on a plan to fight global climate change, and failed. Until now. Never before has China agreed to peak emissions by a date certain, and never before has it committed to transition to zero-emission energy this quickly.
This is history being made. By Barack Obama. Again.