If any progress is to be made in the global fight against climate change — whether via diplomatic negotiations or cleantech partnerships — it will only happen through cooperation between the U.S. and China. But the potential for collaboration of any kind took a big blow this past week thanks to the Google fracas. Reports The New York Times:
Beijing and Washington both initially tried to treat the Google case as mainly a commercial dispute. But Mrs. Clinton’s speech on Internet freedom on Thursday, with its cold war undertones, has catapulted the dispute from the realm of technology and cybersecurity to one of fundamental freedoms. China’s strongly worded response suggests that the tensions could spill over into other areas where the administration is eager for Chinese cooperation, including climate change and curtailing Iran’s nuclear program.
The Obama team is trying to tamp down the gloomy analysis, reports The Wall Street Journal:
On Friday, the Obama administration reacted to China’s accusation the U.S. was endangering bilateral relations with restraint. Michael Hammer, a spokesman for the National Security Council, said he believed the countries’ ties would “continue to grow and strengthen” despite differences on several fronts.
But that’s transparently wishful thinking.
Add the Google mess to the list of other barriers to climate progress that emerged this past week, from Scott Brown’s election to Lisa Murkowski’s resolution to the IPCC’s admission that it screwed up climate data to the Supreme Court’s evisceration of campaign finance limits.