Today, Reince Priebus announced that the Trump Administration would make climate change denial its official policy. As leaders in Beijing wake up to the news, they must be having their own Thanksgiving. It’s not that they wish ill on the American people. It’s just, well, a dream come true.
Even for most focused on environmental sustainability, China has gone under the radar for years. It wasn’t until the joint U.S./China climate announcement in the lead up to COP21 that people started to sit up and listen. Here on the mainland, though, it’s evident that the Government has been on a mission to clean up its act. Premier Li Keqiang made his now famous remarks in 2014 that development at all costs could no longer be on the country’s agenda. Since then, China has made tremendous leaps and bounds in ensuring a sustainable future.
Some, like Chris Bentley of the GroundTruth Project, argue that China is now going to give this all up just because of an impending lack of U.S. leadership. I disagree.
Not only is there a huge amount of investment on the line, China is not so ignorant to counter the claims of the scientific community when it comes to the environment. The silent leadership position China has taken on is also one of the few national policies the rest of the world can get behind. Unlike its rocky (no pun intended) moves in the East China Sea, domestic border disputes, or slow recolonization of Africa, China will take this opportunity to galvanize the global community behind its green dreams.
As China looks for legitimacy at the big-kids table of global policy, we are entering a new era where the country holds both the civically and morally correct mantle of environmental leader. With the U.S. beginning its fast descent into inward, shortsighted policy positions, China is waiting to strike. Xi Jinping has already put egg on the face of the American Administration by, rightly, denying climate change is a hoax orchestrated by his people. With the numbers to back him up, Xi now knows the final nail is being hammered into the coffin of U.S. political leadership on climate.