Biden administration: US must catch up to China on renewable energy to create jobs

WASHINGTON – Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Monday will frame climate change as both the biggest challenge and the biggest opportunity facing the United States.

“If we succeed, we will capitalize on the greatest opportunity to create quality jobs in generations,” Blinken will say in a speech at the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, according to excerpts released by the State Department.

His speech previews President Joe Biden hosting 40 world leaders for a virtual climate summit on April 22 and 23, from Russian President Vladimir Putin to French President Emmanuel Macron to Saudi King Salman. 

This week’s summit is meant to signal a renewed U.S. commitment to leading the global fight against climate change after four years in which the Trump administration played down the threat.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken testifies before the House Committee on Foreign Affairs on "The Biden Administration's Priorities for US Foreign Policy" on Capitol Hill, March 10, 2021 in Washington, DC. (Photo: KEN CEDENO, AFP via Getty Images)

Biden is expected to announce new limits on U.S. emissions ahead of the summit. Scientists, environmental groups and some business leaders are calling on Biden to set a target that would cut U.S. greenhouse gas emissions by at least 50% below 2005 levels by 2030.

Biden is already facing blowback from Republicans, who argue that moving away from fossil fuels will hurt U.S. competitiveness, cost American jobs and raise energy prices.

In his speech, Blinken will frame the issue as a growing national security threat and said the U.S. is falling behind China in developing the technology needed to curb climate change.  

“Already, solar and wind technicians are among the fastest growing jobs in America. But right now, we’re falling behind,” he plans to say. He notes that China is the largest producer and exporter of solar panels, wind turbines, batteries, and electric vehicles.

Tesla's planned research and development center in China is expected to be operational by the middle of this year, and the company hopes to be shipping a $25,000 vehicle for worldwide distribution from China as early as 2022. (Photo: Tesla Inc.)

“It holds nearly a third of the world’s renewable energy patents. If we don’t catch up, America will miss the chance to shape the world’s climate future in a way that reflects our interests and values, and we’ll lose out on countless jobs for the American people,” he will say. 

American public opinion has shifted in favor of a more aggressive approach to addressing climate change. A majority of Americans say they favor a range of U.S. government actions to reduce the impacts of climate change, from tree planting initiatives to tougher fuel efficiency standards for vehicles, according to June 2020 Pew Research Center poll.

“If America fails to lead the world on addressing the climate crisis, we won’t have much of a world left,” Blinken will say.

Contributing: Associated Press

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Solar cell maker in Changzhou. China, in 2009. (Photo: Philippe Lopez, AFP/Getty Images)

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