November 13, 2014
President Obama and President Xi of China have come to an agreement on greenhouse gas emissions. It's being hailed as a "historic" breakthrough ahead of the 2015 U.N. Climate Change Conference, but I have three words: Talk is cheap.
This reminds me of 1998, when President Clinton signed the Kyoto Protocol knowing full well that it would never be ratified by the Senate.
China is taking a page from the Clinton playbook. There is nothing binding about President Xi's agreement, and China will face zero consequences if it does not live up to its word.
And we should have no such expectation. This is a non-binding charade because as China's economy grows, so will its demand for electricity. China is the largest consumer and importer of coal in the world, accounting for 50% of global consumption.
Over the next decade, China is expected to bring a new coal-fired power plant online every 10 days to give its hungry economy the electricity it demands, according to the Energy Information Administration.
Unlike the United States, China does not have other inexpensive energy resources. China has not had a shale revolution, and it has no known natural gas reserves.
To continue to support the world's largest economy, China will have no choice but to break its promise of hitting its emissions peak by 2030.
Meanwhile, President Obama's agreement binds the U.S. to immediate action, which he will pursue through regulations and mandates.
The climate rules his administration is already developing for power plants go beyond the scope of the Clean Air Act, and the cost to implement just one of these rules is expected to total $479 billion from 2017 through 2031.
While China continues to lure manufacturing and agriculture jobs away from our shores with promises of cheap labor and abundant electricity, these overbearing regulations will only move the needle by 0.018 degrees Celsius by 2100.
As Republicans take the majority in the new Congress, I will be working to ensure these rules do not become final or put at risk our economy and domestic energy expansion.
Sen. James M. Inhofe, R-Okla., is expected to become chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee in the new Congress.