On Wednesday, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio warned against what he called the “world’s leading polluter” being represented at a White House climate summit that gets underway Thursday.
Rubio, appearing on the Fox Business Network, told host Maria Bartiromo of his concerns about China having a place at the virtual table with roughly 40 other countries during the two-day event, given China’s unique role in boosting global emissions.
The Senator noted that China is “funding billions of dollars of fossil fuel power plants all over the world,” including within China.
“Their emissions continue to climb,” Rubio continued. “That’s what I always tell people. U.S. action alone is irrelevant when you have countries like China who continue to increase their emissions, and they’re not going to stop doing that.”
“If you look at words versus actions, Xi Jinping is happy to see us adopt policies that would increase the cost of us growing our economy. But I don’t think you’re going to see them doing anything that’s going to slow down their ability to grow. And you’re not going to see them doing anything to stop funding this activity, all over the world, where they now control these power plants; it gives them geopolitical leverage, too,” Rubio added.
The Senator noted the difficulty democracy poses in dealing long-term with Beijing, saying it’s “wishful thinking” to say China will ever mend its polluting ways.
“Every four to eight years, we transition from one administration to the next. They don’t have those kinds of transitions. They’ve got a steady plan that they stick to,” Rubio said.
The Senator went on to reiterate that China counts on the fact that “in Western countries and democracies leaders change every number of years, and so the new leaders will forget about the deals with the old leaders, or won’t make it a priority.”
“I think that’s what they take advantage of,” Rubio told Bartiromo, “and I think they’ll do the same with climate.”
The State Department released a joint U.S./China statement on climate last week, ahead of the summit. It paints a somewhat rosier picture than Rubio’s bleak comments.
Among the takeaways is an assertion that “the United States and China are firmly committed to working together and with other Parties to strengthen implementation of the Paris Agreement” and take other collective actions together.
However, it does not seem that even the aspirational language of a joint statement offers Sino-skeptic Rubio much reassurance.