“Now more Asian nations are falling in line with China’s regional trading association — the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership — which has no serious environmental, intellectual property, human trafficking or labor standards like TPP. A Peterson Institute study said TPP would “increase annual real incomes in the United States by $131 billion” by 2030, without changing total U.S. employment levels. Goodbye to that.
But Trump took his Make China Great campaign to a new level on Tuesday by rejecting the science on climate change and tossing out all Obama-era plans to shrink our dependence on coal-fired power. Trump also wants to weaken existing mileage requirements for U.S.-made vehicles. Stupid.
O.K., Mr. President, let’s assume for a second that climate change is a hoax. Do you believe in math? There are now 7.5 billion people on the planet, and there will be 8.5 billion by 2030, according to the United Nations population bureau — and most will want to drive like us, eat protein like us and live in houses like us. And if they do, we’ll eat up, burn up, smoke up and choke up the planet — and devour our fisheries, coral reefs, rivers and forests — at a pace we’ve never seen before. Major cities in India and China already can’t breathe; wait for when there are another billion people.
That means that clean power, clean water, clean air, clean transportation and energy-efficient buildings will have to be the next great global industry, whether or not there is climate change. The demand will be huge.
So what is China doing? Its new five-year plan is a rush to electric cars, batteries, nuclear, wind, solar and energy efficiency — and a cap-and-trade system for carbon. Trump’s plan? More coal and oil. Hello? How can America be great if we don’t dominate the next great global industry — clean power?
The U.S. state leading in clean energy innovations is California, which also has the highest vehicle emissions standards and the strictest building efficiency codes. Result: California alone has far more advanced energy jobs than there are coal miners in America, and the pay is better and the work is healthier. In January 2016, CNNMoney reported that nationally the U.S. “solar industry work force is bigger than that of oil and gas construction, and nearly three times the size of the entire coal mining work force.”
“More than half the electric vehicles sold in the U.S. are sold in California,” said Hal Harvey, C.E.O. of Energy Innovation. “If there are two jurisdictions hellbent on transformation, it is China and California. There have been 200 million E.V.s sold in China already. They’re called electric bicycles, which cost about $400 — quiet, not contributing to congestion or pollution, and affordable.”
China is loving this: It’s doubling down on clean energy — because it has to and it wants to leapfrog us on technology — and we’re doubling down on coal, squandering our lead in technology.
It was bitterly ironic that on the same day that President Trump took America on a great leap backward to coal, The Wall Street Journal reported that “Tencent Holdings Ltd. bought a 5% stake in Tesla Inc., giving the backing of China’s most valuable company to the Silicon Valley electric-vehicle maker as it prepares to launch its first car aimed at the mass market. … Having a powerful friend in China could help Tesla as it eyes further global expansion. Big Chinese tech companies have backed a wave of green-car start-ups in the country recently.”
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So you tell me that Trump is not a Chinese agent. The only other explanation is that he’s ignorant and unread — that he’s never studied the issues or connected the dots between them — so Big Coal and Big Oil easily manipulated him into being their chump, who just tweeted out their talking points to win votes here and there — without any thought to grand strategy. Surely that couldn’t be true?”
Friedman didn’t even get to my recurring thought. As we push Mexico, our second leading trading partner away, China will be waiting with open arms. What better than to fuel up some technology and capital-driven economic competition for the U.S. right here in North America, right across our Southern Border. And, once Mexico sees that the Chinese aren’t going to lean all over them on immigration and Central American migration, and that Beijing has no particular interest in trying to publicly humiliate Mexico’s leaders, the incentive for Mexico to cooperate with us on reducing migration and border issues drops to somewhere below zero.
I’m certainly no economist or foreign trade expert. But, I’m getting the feeling that neither are our President and his team. They just go around stirring things up, making gaffes, insulting friendly foreign leaders and organizations, and then, apparently, relying on their secret weapon, “Czar of Everything Trumpian” Jared Kushner to work behind the scenes to assure folks that nobody meant anything they said or did. Wow! What a way to make policy.