Biden’s Energy Secretary Says U.S. Can ‘Learn From China’ On Climate Policy

Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm said Friday that everyone could “learn from” China when it came to climate policy while speaking at the South by Southwest festival.

China approved 168 new power plants fueled by coal in 2022, according to a report by the Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air (CREA) and Global Energy Monitor (GEM) released Feb. 27. The country was responsible for more greenhouse gas emissions than any other country in 2019, the BBC reported.

“What we have been trying to do, what Secretary Kerry has been trying to do as the president’s climate envoy, is to get all of these countries to agree to very aggressive targets to be able to make sure that we don’t get climate — global warming happening over, you know, 1.5 degrees. And we — we have — you know, we’ve raised our hand, we said, we want to get to net zero by 2050,” Granholm said. “We are really pushing other countries to do the same.”

Former Secretary of State John Kerry, President Joe Biden’s climate change envoy, said that talks with China on climate issues have stalled since the downing of a spy balloon in February. Kerry has long pushed to keep talks with China going, despite its heavy use of coal and its nuclear weapons buildup.

The Biden administration has pushed for more electric vehicles and to phase out fossil fuels, which Biden promised to do during his 2020 presidential bid.

Biden signed the Inflation Reduction Act into law in August, which included a tax credit for electric battery production. Despite Biden’s push for more electric vehicles, the Environmental Protection Agency made a determination Jan. 31 that would block the mining of 1.4 billion tons of copper, gold, molybdenum, silver and rhenium in Alaska in order to protect salmon.

“And no matter what country you’re a member of, the countries all are susceptible to pressure, to peer pressure, they don’t want to be the outlier — I mean, there’s a couple of countries that we know are outliers and don’t care — but — but, I think China has done — has been very sensitive, and has actually invested a lot in their solutions, to achieve their goals,” Granholm continued. “So we’re — we’re hopeful that, you know, we can all learn from what China is doing, but the amount of money that they’re investing in clean energy is actually you know, encouraging.”