American politicians campaigning now would do well to stop polarizing the climate change debate and start talking about jobs, economic development and beating China at its own game.
That would mean employing social capitalism to create a powerful national energy plan that ignites the private sector through public incentives. Although the Chinese are faced with horrible environmental conditions, at least they are doing something about it and may win an economic war in the process.
Aided by a currency peg to the dollar — many say an unfair manipulation that has hurt U.S. exports — the Chinese are currently winning the trade battle. Imports from China surged to $33 billion in July, a figure not seen since the dark days of 2008, ballooning the U.S. trade deficit with the People’s Republic.
To date, U.S. policymakers are losing the Earth Race and the only environmental target they can hit are their own feet. The Chinese recently pulled ahead in the contest, announcing through its State Information Center that it would spend $738 billion in renewable energy projects over the next decade.
By any measure, that’s a great leap ahead of U.S. clean-tech efforts. The stimulus plan set aside about $36 billion for a host of U.S. Department of Energy-led projects in the wake of the 2008 financial meltdown. In contrast, China’s stimulus investment for reducing greenhouse gas emissions was $221 billion, according to a report by British Bank HSBC.