Climate Change Is 'Ultimate Threat to Humanity,' Biden Says Before Boarding Private Jet To Meet World's Largest Carbon Emitter

Biden's flight to San Francisco to meet Chinese president Xi emitted more carbon than the average American produces in four years

(Reuters/Kevin Lamarque/File Photo)
November 15, 2023

President Joe Biden during a Tuesday address called climate change "the ultimate threat to humanity." Then he took a cross-country flight on a private jet to meet with Chinese president Xi Jinping, whose communist country emits more carbon than the rest of the developed world combined.

Biden's remark came during a White House address on the "climate crisis," which the Democrat said requires America to take "more action than ever" to combat. After finishing his speech, Biden boarded Air Force One to travel to San Francisco ahead of a meeting with Xi. That flight emitted more than 130,000 pounds of carbon dioxide, according to a Washington Free Beacon analysis—a carbon footprint that the average American would need more than four years to produce.

In the buildup to his meeting with Xi, Biden stressed the need to "change" America's relationship with China "for the better," and his administration on Tuesday released a joint statement in which the United States and China "reaffirm[ed] their commitment to work jointly and together … to address the climate crisis." But Xi has long pledged to lower his nation's emissions, only to do the opposite.

In 2014, one year after Xi became China's president, China unveiled a plan to cap its annual coal consumption at 4.2 billion tons by 2020, an effort that then-U.S. president Barack Obama said "shows what's possible when we work together on an urgent global challenge."  In 2022, the communist nation consumed 4.5 billion tons of coal, an all-time high.

Years later, in 2021, Biden climate czar John Kerry praised Xi for using the term "climate crisis" and pledging to cut emissions. "I'd rather have those words than not," Kerry said. Xi in 2022 approved the equivalent of two new coal power plants a week.

The White House did not return a request for comment.

Biden during his Tuesday speech unveiled the nation's fifth Climate Assessment, which the Democrat said "shows us in clear scientific terms that climate change is impacting all regions, all sectors of the United States."

"You know, I've seen firsthand what the reports made clear: the devastating toll of climate change and its existential threat to all of us," Biden said. "And it is the ultimate threat to humanity: climate change."

"Anyone who willfully denies the impact of climate change," he continued, "is condemning the American people to a very dangerous future."

Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris after the speech boarded their respective private planes, Air Force One and Air Force Two, to fly to San Francisco, where Xi arrived Tuesday afternoon.

That cross-country trip spans approximately 2,446 miles. Planes on average produce 53.3 pounds of carbon dioxide per air mile, meaning Biden's flight emitted more than 130,000 pounds of carbon dioxide. The average American's yearly carbon footprint is just 32,000 pounds, meaning Biden's flight generated a carbon footprint that an average American would take more than four years to produce. When Harris's flight is included in the calculation, that figure balloons to more than eight years.

Biden in January 2021 issued an executive order calling on all federal agencies to "combat the climate crisis with bold, progressive action." That order, Republicans argue, has left the administration distracted as it prioritizes climate change at the expense of other issues.

The Biden administration's intelligence community, for example, was ramping up efforts to combat climate change as Hamas planned its Oct. 7 terrorist assault on Israel.

"The administration's obsession with putting leftist politics before our national security has had disastrous effects on morale, public trust, recruiting, overall readiness, and even intelligence collection," Rep. Jim Banks (R., Ind.) told the Free Beacon on Tuesday. "Our adversaries are laughing at us."