The climate-change campaign against fossil fuels has been having a hard time with democracy. Voters in the U.S. support fracking and the Keystone XL pipeline, Australia repealed its carbon tax, and frustration with green energy costs is rising across Europe. So perhaps it’s not surprising that President Obama has turned to a dictatorship for help with his anticarbon ambitions.
In that sense, the emissions accord sealed Tuesday night between the U.S. and China is a perfect reflection of the mindset of Western climate-change activists. Cheap and abundant energy is popular among Americans because it raises living standards and helps the economy grow.
The romance of the fresh princelings of Beijing is that they needn’t abide such barriers to enlightened governance as elections, a free press, transparency, the rule of law and two political parties. They can simply order economic transformation in the next five-year plan, and censor any dissenters as Al Gore wants to do in the U.S. Thus in China Mr. Obama has found the ideal climate-change partner: A technocratic elite that can instruct the bourgeoisie how they must light their homes and commute to work.
We and many others have been skeptical of a U.S.-China carbon pact, though that was because we assumed the White House and green lobby would demand terms that imposed at least some discipline on Chinese behavior. We discounted the possibility that Mr. Obama preferred the illusion of progress, and that his green allies could be rolled as cheaply as the terms of Tuesday’s accord.
Under the nonbinding, no-detail agreement, Supreme Leader Xi Jinping promises “to intend to achieve the peaking of CO2 emissions around 2030,” and then maybe after that to decline. This is another way of describing the status quo.