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Why China and India’s leaders won’t be attending the UN Climate Summit

Hydrocarbon Engineering,

Recent analysis by the Institute for Energy Research (IER) highlights that China’s President Xi and India’s Prime Minister Modi will not be attending the UN Climate Summit in New York. This is in large part because officials see many international climate agreements as unfairly punishing developing countries, according to the IER.

Over the past three decades, increased energy use has improved quality of living in China and India. As electricity generation and primary energy consumption in both countries have risen, so have GDP per capita, life expectancy and access to improved sanitation facilities. At the same time, according to World Bank data, the mortality rate of children under five years old has dropped off. The UN’s summit platform, however, includes an energy agenda that aims to limit greenhouse gas emissions through the adoption of costly, ineffective renewable technologies and energy efficiency standards. China and India recognize that this agenda will raise electricity and gasoline costs, unfairly stifle their nations’ economic growth, and leave their citizens worse off.

IER explains that while other factors besides energy use certainly have an impact on the quality of life, energy is ultimately necessary for a thriving society. As Julian Simon once noted, energy is ‘the master resource’ – the driving force behind almost all other productive forces. The IER highlights that the International Energy Agency’s World Energy Outlook also states it well:

‘Energy alone is not sufficient for creating conditions for economic growth, but it is certainly necessary. It is impossible to operate a factory, run a shop, grow crops or deliver goods to consumers without using some form of energy. Access to electricity is particularly crucial to human development as electricity is, in practice, indispensable for certain basic activities, such as lighting, refrigeration and the running of household appliances, and cannot easily be replaced by other forms of energy.’

The conclusions that the IER draws from this are: ‘Energy is closely tied to a better life. Nations should embrace the benefits of increased energy use and the economic power it provides to pull people out of poverty, save lives, and increase health. Instead, the UN promotes a costly, ineffective renewables program and energy efficiency mandates that would jeopardize growth that has improved the lives of billions of people. China and India recognize this, and the rest of the world should take note’.

Adapted from IER analysis by Emma McAleavey.

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