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The Polar Bear Paradox
North Rhine-Westphalia, Gelsenkirchen: Polar bear Lara takes a nap in the snow.
Photo by Roland Weihrauch/picture alliance via Getty Images

The Polar Bear Paradox

Walter Russell Mead

President Biden laid down a climate marker in his inaugural address: “A cry for survival comes from the planet itself. A cry that can’t be any more desperate or any more clear.” He returned to the theme in his speech last week to the Munich Security Conference, calling the climate crisis “existential.”

For environmentalists, those are welcome words. The Trump years saw the U.S. leave the Paris Agreement while pursuing aggressive deregulation at home. Climate change is now back on the national agenda.

There are two mistakes observers can make about this new era of climate diplomacy. The first is to think it won’t last or will be limited to rhetoric. Climate skeptics and fossil-fuel interests should brace themselves. The fight to reduce global greenhouse-gas emissions and to shift the world’s energy systems toward much lower emissions isn’t going away. Key positions up and down the government bureaucracy will be filled by committed greens who have thought long and hard about how to use the powers of the regulatory state to achieve green goals. A host of new policies—and new regulations—are sure to come.

Read the full article in the Wall Street Journal

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