How China Is Leading On Climate While America Drags Us Down (In Two Charts)


The comparison between China and America’s climate plans is quite stark. China has a stable government capable capable of planning and they project net zero by 2050. Net zero isn’t actually enough, but this is something. And China can execute, they already produce the most renewable energy infrastructure on Earth. EVs (also not enough) already make up a third of vehicle sales there. China is leading on climate change from the front. Climate change is just a symptom of a bigger problem, but we’ll leave that aside for the moment.

As a report from some think tank says:

BNEF’s data show that China was by far the leading country for attracting energy transition investment, accounting for $546 billion or nearly half of the global total. The US was a distant second at $141 billion…

BNEF also reports that clean energy factory investment (investments in manufacturing facilities for clean energy technologies) grew to $78.7 billion in 2022, up from $52.6 billion in 2021. Manufacturing facilities for batteries and related components formed the largest share of this at $45.4 billion, while solar factories attracted $23.9 billion. China accounted for 91% of manufacturing investments in 2022, in spite of efforts from other countries to capture more of the global clean energy opportunity.

Now look at the comparable plans and ancients from America. They’re not even trying. They’re not even pretending.

The US Energy Administration proudly says “U.S. energy-related carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions will fall to 4.5 billion metric tons in 2037, or 6% below the energy-related CO2 emissions in 2021, before rising to 4.7 billion metric tons in 2050, or 2% below 2021 levels.”

Is this a fucking joke? Their big plan for 2050 is to reduce emissions by 2%? And their plan for 2037–2050 is to increase them? Nevermind the fact that we’re simply running out of fossil fuels (as much as America furiously fracks its last veins). When it comes to climate collapse, they simply don’t give a fuck.

Another point is that climate collapse is such a big, shared threat that countries should be working together and putting aside petty shit for now. The US and USSR worked together to eradicate smallpox, but that spirit of not killing everybody is gone (on the American side). At this time of shared peril for the world, America is besieging China and trying to start outright war over Taiwan. This is foolhardy in that China makes the most renewable infrastructure, literally nothing has changed re: Taiwan, and we simply shouldn’t be fighting each other now. It really feels like if aliens invaded, America would just use the opportunity to settle its own jealous scores, humanity be damned. With climate collapse, that’s what’s going on.

America simply has no plan for climate collapse nor can the execute anything anymore. China has a plan and ability, but America just wants to fight them over dumb shit. Meanwhile the rest of the world is caught in between like da fuq? In the middle of catastrophic global heating, you want to start a Cold War? Is that really the priority right now? America should be working with and following Chinese leadership on climate just as they should have followed China’s valiant efforts to fight COVID. Instead — just as with COVID — they’re propagandizing against China, doing nothing, and the whole world burns because they still ‘lead’ us (with a chain and club).

It is, to say the least, unfortunate. China is leading on climate collapse, but America is dragging us all down.

Hat-tip my friend Helena Cobban for the graphs.