I was pleased to recently read sensible statements from a well-known and prominent national political figure about the need for a gradual, well thought out and orderly transition from traditional energy sources to those that may lay ahead in the future. Traditional energy sources, he said, must continue to have a strong place as energy security should be among the country’s top priorities in maintaining economic growth and national security.
Aspirational goals to peak and eventually reach zero emissions must be tempered with prudence due to recent experiences of power shortages in certain locations following a limited amount of improperly balanced alternative energy sources replacing traditional energy sources for electric power generation. It was strongly stated that the use of traditional energy sources should not begin to be phased out until sufficient alternative energy sources are available to replace them.
He strongly stressed initiatives to reach emissions targets should be advanced in a well-planned and phased way, in keeping with the principle of getting the new before discarding the old. All of this is perfectly in line with carefully balancing the competing sustainability goals of environmental, economic and social priorities. But, first and foremost he firmly reiterated, the overriding priority should be to expand and maintain energy security.
Unfortunately, these wise words did not come from a leadership position within the United States government or from another leader of a free and open democratic nation. These were statements from China’s President Xi Jinping at the beginning of the annual weeklong Communist Party Congress where he was elected to an unprecedented third five-year term as general secretary of the Chinese Communist Party.