Even good news is treated to a chilly reception by many Republican political leaders. Witness the reception given to the preliminary announcement by China of emissions reductions pact with the United States. Various Republican leaders have said various unkind things about President Obama’s historic announcement this past week, none of which dignify a serious response. Rather they need a fact check.
Charles Krauthammer himself said of President Obama’s visit: “I think the one item he could negotiate, and I'm serious about this, climate change. That's the one where if we and China could agree it would make a difference. You could shut down every coal mine in Kentucky it won't make a dime's worth of difference. If he gets an agreement with China, which he won't, but that's the one area it would be historic.” Note Krauthammer's use of the qualifiers "I'm serious about this" and "which he won't."
Like Krauthammer, many of President Obama's climate policy critics have been complaining for years that action to reduce carbon pollution is a nonstarter in the United States since the Chinese refuse to do anything about it. Now President Obama has done what his opponents said he needed to do, It is clearly miscreant behavior to demand that your opponent take a step and then torpedo that opponent for taking said step. Such behavior is miscreant because it is mendacious.
I think President Obama’s pledge with China was a profound and defining leadership moment. Coal energy kills Americans. Coal energy also kills many more Chinese. Both countries owe it to coal energy’s victims to chart a different course. Now there are no reasons to wait, only excuses. Creative conservative approaches are available just as are flexible regulatory approaches. Now is the hour to act.