Helen Raleigh: Kerry and China have major ethics problems and can't be trusted on climate

Kerry's desperation to do whatever it takes to get Beijing on board for a climate deal has been evident to all

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President Biden this week is joining hundreds of world leaders, business executives and activists in Glasgow, Scotland, to attend COP26, a global climate summit. It is in America’s best interest that Biden doesn’t trust advice from his climate czar John Kerry or lofty rhetoric from the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). 

The CCP has a long history of making promises it has no intention of keeping. Take Hong Kong as a perfect example. The CCP pledged to maintain Hong Kong’s autonomy for 50 years after the 1997 handover. Yet in 2020, despite international outcry and condemnation, the CCP pushed through a national secu­rity law in Hong Kong, effectively ending the "one country, two systems" framework. Once one of the freest places in the world, Hong Kong has descended into an authoritarian police state. 

Climate change is another example where the CCP has failed to live up to its promises. China was a signatory of the  Paris climate agreement. In his 2017 address to the United Nations, Xi Jinping, head of the CCP, cast himself as a leader on climate change and China as an alternative to the United States by promising that "China will continue to take steps to tackle climate change and fully honor its obligations." At last year’s U.N. gathering, Xi upped the ante by pledging that China would be "carbon neutral" by 2060.

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But Xi’s lofty rhetoric hasn’t been supported by China’s actions. Since signing up for the Paris accord, China has built more new coal plants domestically and internationally. Only recently, Xi finally announced that China wouldn’t build any more new coal plants abroad. But he didn’t commit to doing the same domestically because China’s economy still heavily relies on coal. 

FILE – In this photo provided by China's Xinhua News Agency, Chinese President and party leader Xi Jinping delivers a speech at a ceremony marking the centenary of the ruling Communist Party in Beijing, China, Thursday, July 1, 2021. China’s Communist Party is marking the 100th anniversary of its founding with speeches and grand displays intended to showcase economic progress and social stability to justify its iron grip on political power that it shows no intention of relaxing. (Li Xueren/Xinhua via AP)

FILE – In this photo provided by China's Xinhua News Agency, Chinese President and party leader Xi Jinping delivers a speech at a ceremony marking the centenary of the ruling Communist Party in Beijing, China, Thursday, July 1, 2021. China’s Communist Party is marking the 100th anniversary of its founding with speeches and grand displays intended to showcase economic progress and social stability to justify its iron grip on political power that it shows no intention of relaxing. (Li Xueren/Xinhua via AP) (Bret Baier breaks down the origins of socialism)

Today, China remains the world’s worst polluter. According to the United Nations' Emissions Gap Report 2020, China "emits more than one-quarter of global greenhouse gas emissions and has per capita emissions that are around 40% above the global average." Indeed, China’s annual greenhouse gas emission is almost equivalent to the sum of those of the United States, EU27+UK, and India. 

Given the plight of the Uyghurs, it is morally unconscionable that Kerry, climate envoy of the United States, has been profiting from slave laborers. 

Bloomberg reported recently that China’s carbon output "is still rising every year," and some of China’s largest state-owned companies generated more CO2 than entire nations. For example, one of China’s state-owned oil giant Sinopec Group’s subsidiaries, China Petroleum & Chemical, "contributed more to global warming last year than Canada." Sinopec itself is "an emissions heavyweight with the 11th-most CO2 among nations." 

The mismatch between the CCP’s rhetoric and its actions proved that the CCP is neither a leader nor a reliable partner on climate change. Unfortunately, western progressives and climate activists have chosen to ignore these facts. Instead, they have become more willing than ever to compromise on other moral issues to get China’s cooperation on climate change. 

Last summer, dozens of progressive organizations wrote a letter to President Biden, urging him to "prioritize cooperation with China on climate change and curb its confrontational approach over issues like Beijing’s crackdown on Hong Kong and forced detention of Uyghur Muslims." 

President Biden’s climate czar John Kerry has enthusiastically endorsed such an approach. His desperation to do whatever it takes to get Beijing on board for a climate deal has been evident to all, especially Beijing. Even some of Kerry’s liberal colleagues are worried because "China’s diplomacy is a constant search for leverage, and Kerry will deliver a load of it in a wheelbarrow right to their front door every day."

In climate discussions with Kerry, Beijing insisted that "cooperation on climate would not commence amid strained relations over human rights, Hong Kong, Taiwan, trade and a range of other issues." Obviously, Beijing is using climate change negotiation to get the United States to compromise on other strategic areas far more critical to the Communist regime. 

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What is disappointing is that Kerry has failed to see through it and tried to meet Beijing’s demand by pushing President Biden to soften the U.S. stance on China to secure China’s commitment to climate change, according to the Washington Post.

Furthermore, Kerry is reportedly working against the U.S. Congress to take any concrete actions against the Chinese Communist Party's use of slave labor. His motivation has gone beyond winning China's commitment to climate change. The Washington Free Beacon reported that "the Chinese private equity fund in which John Kerry holds a $1 million stake is not only invested in a tech company blacklisted for human rights abuses but is also a major shareholder in a solar panel company linked to labor abuses of the Uyghurs." 

Given the plight of the Uyghurs, it is morally unconscionable that Kerry, climate envoy of the United States, has been profiting from slave laborers. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., called for President Biden to fire Kerry due to Kerry's conflict of interest.

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It is clear that on climate change, Biden should not take advice from Kerry, who is ethically challenged and whose desperation for a climate deal has prevented him from offering sound advice solely based on what's good for America. Nor should Biden treat China as a reliable partner in addressing climate-related issues since the CCP has a long history of making promises when it had no intention to deliver. 

If Biden is serious about tackling climate issues, he should trust Americans' ingenuity and creativity while never wavering on the United States' support for human freedom and dignity. 

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