The Biden administration recently announced a $2 trillion infrastructure plan with climate solutions at the center. Some policy experts believe that in order to effectively fight climate change, the United States needs the help of China. At first glance, it makes sense to have China step-up when it comes to fighting climate change as their CO2 emissions continue to rise, but it is critical that the U.S. does not relent in pushing against China’s “innovation mercantilism.”
As Rob Atkinson writes in Morning Consult, in order to effectively solve climate change the U.S. needs to accelerate technological innovation, enabling clean energy to be cheaper and better. This can be done in areas like batteries for vehicles, grid storage, biofuels, clean industrial fuels, and new kinds of solar power. If innovation makes clean energy cheaper and better than dirty energy, then even developing nations (and China) will want to switch so they can save money. There may be issues where we need to make tradeoffs with China to get its cooperation on common problems, but climate is not one of them. Engaging China with climate will do nothing to address climate change, and worse, it will reduce the leverage the United States needs to pressure China to dismantle its predatory innovation mercantilist regime, which weakens our economy and national security.