Rupie Phillips writes for the Washington Examiner about the political left’s excessive focus on climate change.

The 2023 United Nations Climate Change Conference, or COP28, in Dubai ended with a historic commitment among almost 200 countries to move away from fossil fuels, the very first international commitment to do so. 

In the middle of COP28, the attendees were surprised by an extreme pronouncement from U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. Opening the second day of the conference, Guterres demanded that the world completely eliminate the use of fossil fuels: “Not reduce,” he said. “Not abate. Phase out.” 

This extreme rhetoric is patently improbable, unrealistic, and short-sighted. We’ve seen this before. Back in 2015, at COP21, for example, world leaders negotiated the Paris Agreement and celebrated it as a historic agreement that would save our planet. As it turns out, the agreement was filled with unrealistic benchmarks and only effective if every signatory followed the rules, which unsurprisingly did not happen.  

The biggest blindspot to this flawed thinking concerns the U.S.’s geopolitical competition with China. The Chinese Communist Party, instead of working to reduce its emissions, is ramping up its carbon footprint. China emits 30% of all total greenhouse gas emissions, more than the United States, the European Union, and India combined. CCP leader Xi Jinping has explicitly stated that he will not follow through with the emissions reductions China promised in 2015. 

China knows what many world leaders would like to deny: Fossil fuels remain the most reliable form of energy globally. And the Western world’s transition to unreliable forms of energy, such as wind and solar, leaves us vulnerable to our coal-burning adversaries, such as China, Russia, and Iran, during a time of international upheaval.   

Indeed, while the U.S. moves quickly to phase out coal without a reliable replacement, China, Russia, and Iran will continue to use their vast coal reserves to bolster their economic and military power.