Biden’s energy plan means lights out for Africa
The Biden administration’s decision to impose oppressive, burdensome restrictions on developing African countries attempting to advance and lift themselves from destitution and dependence is profoundly concerning.
Energy poverty is at the heart of Africa’s development challenges.
No country on Earth became prosperous and self-reliant without access to affordable and plentiful energy.
Energy security is the prerequisite for industrialization, job creation, advanced health care and effective education systems.
Prosperity is only possible with ready access to inexpensive energy.
Congress initiated the successful, bipartisan Power Africa program in 2015, with the underlying legislation mandating a commonsense “all-of-the-above” energy strategy with both conventional and renewable sources.
Regrettably, the Biden administration has gutted Power Africa with its onerous restrictions.
Instead of leveraging all available tools to pull Africa out of energy poverty, it only allows so-called “green-energy projects” to receive US funding and support.
This policy is simply energy colonialism.
Even worse, it is hypocritical and a huge waste of money and opportunities.
President Biden’s unauthorized climate envoy, John Kerry, is flying around the world in jet planes while abandoning the African people to the impossible task of solving their serious energy crises with ineffective and counterproductive solutions: solar panels filled with parts made by forced labor in Communist China.
Most recently he and other administration officials, including Vice President Kamala Harris, attended COP28 in the United Arab Emirates, where they pledged billions in taxpayer money to the Green Climate Fund — a slush fund for special-interest projects with no real oversight that has funded projects in China, the world’s second-largest economy.
These pledges of billions in taxpayer money invested only in perceived “green” projects will do nothing to address the true drivers of pollution — like China — or empower the African continent.
We find it unconscionable the administration is exploiting the continent’s dire needs for investments toward genuine modernization and advancement to appease its special interests and partisan agenda.
It is wrong to hold still-developing African countries to a standard even the most advanced economies cannot achieve.
This virtue signaling will have disastrous results for US interests in Africa.
The burden on Africa is even more absurd when one considers Africa’s current emissions are entirely inconsequential, amounting to less than the margin of error in climate models used to speculate about the effects of climate change.
In other words, if Africa were to reduce its emissions to zero, the enormous sacrifice that would entail would still have almost no effect on a global scale.
And even if African countries tripled their current emissions levels from natural-gas power plants, it would still be negligible compared with China’s continuously growing carbon emissions.
Instead of confronting the world’s second-largest economy, responsible for 27% of global emissions — more than six times the emissions of the entire continent of Africa — the Biden administration is holding undeveloped countries to an unfair standard.
China has shown it’s eager to finance the conventional energy development Team Biden is trying to quash.
Biden’s approach to Power Africa is wasteful, paternalistic and counterproductive.
It’s wasteful because it devalues critical energy assistance to Africa and diverts it to less useful priorities.
It’s paternalistic because it dictates oppressive burdens on Africa’s development the United States did not endure during its formative stages.
It’s counterproductive because it hinders Africa’s advancement while driving countries into the waiting arms of the true problem in climate change: Communist China.
In the Department of State, Foreign Operations and Related Programs appropriations bill for fiscal year 2024, which passed the House in September, there’s a provision to right this wrong.
If enacted, the bill would simply require the president to return to the balanced approach of allowing countries in Africa to use all tools available to promote energy security and development.
After all, the goal of Power Africa is not to mindlessly impose an ineffectual and wasteful climate-change agenda where it does not fit.
Congress must work together once again to find a bipartisan path forward to empower and power Africa’s future.
We believe the first step must be lifting the absurd criteria the Biden administration has unfairly imposed on Africa.
Mario Díaz-Balart is a US representative for Florida’s 26th Congressional District, a senior member of the House Committee on Appropriations and chairman of the State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Subcommittee. Michael McCaul is a US representative for Texas’ 10th Congressional District, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and chairman emeritus of the House Committee on Homeland Security.