Idealism and ground realities

Will US and China work together to save climate?  

Speaking at Washington’s Woodrow Wilson Centre Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari urged the USA and China to cooperate to save the planet from climate change and not fight. As he put it “We will not save our planet if China and the US do not work together on climate.” While one may share Bilawal’s sentiment, there is little chance of its getting materialized for two reasons. First, there is little willingness in Washington to stand up to the strong carbon lobby which is deadly opposed to measures that harm its material interest. Second, the USA which finds itself being surpassed by China as an economic power, is wiling to use all measures to stop China from overtaking it.

Thanks the strong influence of the fossil fuel industry, the USA is the only major economy in the world without a national climate policy. The carbon lobby enjoys influence in both the parties that continue to rule the USA. Climate change has been among the top priorities of the Biden Administration, whose actions on the issue include rejoining the Paris Climate Agreement and passage of an infrastructure bill with funding for renewable energy. What happened to Biden’s energy programme should however be an eye-opener. While it had its shortcomings, it had come after major activist campaigns and the Sanders movement. The final blow to the programe was indeed delivered by coal baron and Democrat Senator Joe Manchin, who had been chipping away at the programme steadily and finally declared that he’d accept nothing meaningful. After Biden being more than a year in office, the public in the country remains divided with 47 percent saying these climate policies are taking the country in the wrong direction.

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Currently the USA is trying all it can to contain the growing influence of China in the world, particularly South East Asia. The measure employed by the USA include encouraging countries near China to join hands against Beijing. The purpose of the Quad mechanism is to “encircle China.” The USA also wants India to stand up against China and Pakistan to cooperate with India. Whether the policy works or not, it has had the support of successive Republican and Democrat Administrations. Despite claims of “maintaining a free and open Indo-Pacific region,” the Quad mechanism is engaged in splitting the region and inciting various forces to oppose China. Any possibility of cooperation has been replaced by a growing antipathy.

The Editorial Department of Pakistan Today can be contacted at: [email protected]


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