The March 31 editorial “Bad news on warming” was right to chastise the United States for its regressive climate policies under the Trump administration. However, it was wrong to portray the United States as primarily a “historical” carbon emitter compared with China and India.
While China is now the country with the largest total emissions, its per capita emissions are still about half those of the United States, and India’s are far lower than China’s. The United States’ total emissions are not negligible, either: With Canada and Australia, we account for almost one-fifth of the global sum.
It’s true that the whole world will need to use cleaner technology as it increases its energy consumption. China emits as much per person as Britain, France and other countries that maintain a high standard of living. China can do better, but even under a different administration’s more progressive policies, we would still have a long way to go before we could claim any moral high ground on climate change.
Barry A. Klinger, Potomac
The characterization of “an unhelpful far-left takeover of climate policy” in the editorial “Bad news on warming” might, under some circumstances, be viewed as a cheap shot. That’s not the case here.
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), spearhead of the Green New Deal movement, deserves credit for staking much of her successful election campaign and early months in the 116th Congress on voicing an urgent need for policies that address the threat of global warming. Regrettably, her and her supporters’ decision to embed the climate-policy dilemma within a vastly broader template of socioeconomic legislative priorities almost inescapably dilutes the opportunities for earmarked attention to climate. This will happen by forcing a wasteful debate on separate issues and by making it much more difficult to engage moderates and conservatives in a bipartisan pursuit of action on climate.
One has only to go to House Resolution 109 (introduced by Ms. Ocasio-Cortez) to find a diverse array of recommended initiatives that, aside from the need for zero carbon emissions, include such areas as adequate health care, family farming, redress of historic grievances by America’s indigenous people, reduced income inequality, anti-competitive industrial practices and so on. And I do not use “and so on” lightly.
It would be gratifying if political reality and the cost of a weakened focus on climate would somehow inspire a reverse course from the self-defeating path that seems otherwise to be unfolding.
Joel Darmstadter, Chevy Chase
The writer is senior fellow emeritus at Resources for the Future.