Month: April 2018

Tuesday And Early Voting

In most democracies around the world voting day is on a Sunday, a weekend, or a voting holiday. This allows most working men and women to make it to the polls without taking time off.

In the United States voting is on a regular Tuesday in November. The organization Why Tuesday? explains that, “In 1845, before Florida, California, and Texas were states or slavery had been abolished, Congress needed to pick a time for Americans to vote. We were an agrarian society. We traveled by horse and buggy. Farmers needed a day to get to the county seat, a day to vote, and a day to get back, without interfering with the three days of worship. So that left Tuesday and Wednesday, but Wednesday was market day. So, Tuesday it was.”

It is no surprise that our society has changed over the course of almost 200 years. The same laws that created conveniences for Americans during the 1840s are now an inconvenience for many Americans.

Many people who are working paycheck to paycheck may not have the luxury to take time to vote. In fact, according the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 7.8 million Americans work two jobs. These working conditions make it even less likely to for them to be able to make it to the polls. Unfortunately, this is also a population whose day-to-day lives, paychecks, and health care are directly impacted by the decisions that Congress is making right now regarding the minimum wage, welfare, Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).

On top of the inconvenience of holding elections on Tuesdays, polls open and close at different times in different states. A state where polls open late and close late may work for voters who get off work at regular times but may not help those whose schedules only allow for free time during the morning.


Thirty-seven states and DC have taken steps to make voting easier for their populations. While election day remains on a Tuesday, these states allow their citizens to vote during times leading up to election day.


Types of Voting


A study from the Brennan Center for Justice puts together a strong case for early voting. It argues that “As Americans’ lives become more complex -— for many each day is a struggle to balance the needs of work and family -— confining voting to a single 8- or 12-hour period is simply not reflective of how most voters live. Additionally, having polls open for such a short time can lead to numerous problems, including long lines, as poll workers — who perform the job infrequently at best –struggle to cope with hordes of voters.”

The study finds that some of the key benefits of early voting are:

  • Reduced stress on the voting system on Election Day;
  • Shorter lines on Election Day;
  • Improved poll worker performance;
  • Early identification and correction of registration errors and voting system glitches; and
  • Greater access to voting and increased voter satisfaction.

While most states have taken the step to allow some form of early voting or no-excuse absentee voting, almost 64 million Americans in 13 states do not have that option.

Beyond MLK: What Is To Be Done

Founding Fellows of The Sanders Institute Danny Glover and Nina Turner host a Q&A with TRNN Executive Producer Eddie Conway. Audience members asked about a range of issues such as COINTELPRO, progressive organizing, the Democratic Party, and ways to fight the injustice and inequality bred by capitalism and bolstered by racism.


Italy’s Politics And Europe’s Future

Italy – which stands at the border between Europe’s prosperous north and crisis-ridden south, and between an open Europe and one seized by atavistic nationalism – will play a pivotal role in determining whether the EU survives long enough to reform itself. The coalition government that emerges will prove crucial.

More than ever, the European Union needs unity to assert its values and interests in an age when US global leadership is on the verge of collapse, China is ascendant, and Russia wavers yet again between cooperation and confrontation with the EU. Divided, the EU is a mere helpless spectator to geopolitical upheaval. United, the EU can play a critical global role, as it uniquely combines prosperity, democracy, environmentalism, innovation, and social justice. And whether the EU regains unity of purpose, or instead spirals into disarray, will depend on what happens now in Italy.

Italy’s pivotal role stems from its position at the geographic divide between northern Europe’s prosperity and southern Europe’s crisis, and the intellectual and emotional divide between an open Europe and one trapped again by nationalism, prejudice, and fear. Italy stands also at the political divide, with an insurgent new party, the Five Star Movement (M5S), sharing the political stage with the right-wing, anti-immigrant, and anti-EU League party and the pro-EU but greatly weakened center-left Democratic Party.

The insurgent M5S finished first in the March 4 parliamentary vote with an astounding 33% of the vote, compared to 19% for the Democrats and 17% for the League. The implications of M5S’s strong victory are a topic of heated debate in Italy and around Europe.

Throughout the EU, traditional center-left and center-right pro-EU parties are losing votes. Just as in Italy, anti-EU nationalist parties like the League are gaining votes, and anti-establishment insurgencies like M5S – for example, Podemos in Spain, and Syriza in Greece – are either winning power outright or holding the balance of power between traditional pro-EU mainstream parties and anti-EU nationalist parties.

There are three reasons for Europe’s changing politics. The first, and perhaps least recognized, is a generation of disastrous US foreign policy in the Middle East and Africa. After the Cold War ended in the early 1990s, the US and local allies aimed to establish political and military hegemony in the Middle East and North Africa through US-led wars of regime change in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Libya, and elsewhere. The result has been chronic violence and instability, leading to massive refugee flows into Europe that have upended politics in one EU member state after another.

The second reason is Europe’s now chronic under-investment, especially by the public sector. Under former Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble, a self-satisfied and economically successful Germany blocked European-wide investment-led growth, and turned the eurozone into a debtors’ prison for Greece and a dispiriting zone of stagnation for much of southern and eastern Europe. With the EU’s economic policy limited to austerity, it’s not hard to see why populism has taken root.

The third reason is structural. Northern Europe innovates, while southern and eastern Europe by and large do not, or at least not nearly at the same rate. Italy straddles the two sides of Europe: a dynamic north, and chronic malaise in the south (the Mezzogiorno). This is an old story, but also an ongoing one. It helps to explain the frontlines of EU politics. The M5S was triumphant especially in Italy’s stagnating south.

My political predilections lie with social democracy. I blame conservatives like Schäuble for driving voters into the arms of populist parties. Yet too many mainstream social-democratic leaders went quietly along with Schäuble. I also fault Chancellor Angela Merkel and other European leaders for failing to speak strongly enough against the US-led wars in the Middle East and North Africa. European leaders should have been much more energetic at the United Nations in opposing America’s hegemonic policy in the Middle East, with its catastrophic effects, including mass displacement and refugee movements.

Advocates of a strong and vibrant EU – and I am firmly among them – should be rooting for the insurgent parties to join forces with the weakened traditional social-democratic parties in order to promote sustainable development, innovation, and investment-led growth, and to block anti-EU coalitions. Or, as in Germany, they should urge the grand coalition of center-left and center-right parties to become much more dynamic and investment-oriented at European scale, both for the sake of economic good sense and to combat far-right nationalists. Or, as in France, they should cheer the amalgamation of pro-EU traditionalists and insurgents in President Emmanuel Macron’s La République En Marche ! Such pro-EU alignments give the EU time to reform its institutions, stake out a common foreign policy, and initiate investment- and innovation-led green growth in place of austerity and complacency.

Traditional social-democratic parties mostly shun the new insurgent parties, viewing them as populist, irresponsible, opportunistic, and dishonest. Such is the view in Italy on the part of the Democrats, with key politicians rejecting a coalition with M5S. That is understandable: the upstarts thoroughly defeated the Democrats at the polls, often with outsize populist promises. Yet the social democrats have been flaccid and even silent in the face of Schäuble-style austerity and irresponsible US-led wars. The traditional social-democratic parties will have to regain their dynamism and appetite for risk-taking to win again at the polls as true progressive parties.

The stakes in Italy are high. With Europe politically and geographically divided, Italy’s politics could tip the balance. A pro-EU Italy governed by an M5S-Democrat coalition could join with France and Germany to reform the EU; regain a clear foreign-policy voice for EU vis-à-vis the US, Russia, and China; and implement a strategy for green, innovation-based growth.

To forge such a coalition, the M5S would have to adopt a responsible and clearly defined economic program, and the Democrats would have to accept being the junior partner of an untested insurgent force. A possible key to mutual confidence would be for the Democrats to hold the crucial finance ministry, while M5S appoints the prime minister.

It is not surprising that US President Donald Trump’s utterly reckless former adviser, Stephen Bannon, rushed to Italy to encourage M5S and the League to form a coalition that he called the “ultimate dream,” because it would break the EU. That by itself should remind Italians of the importance of a pro-EU coalition that rejects such miserable nightmares.

Five Points To Counter The NRA

The next time you hear someone repeating pro-gun NRA propaganda, respond with these five points:

1. Gun laws save lives. Consider the federal assault weapons ban. After it became law in 1994, gun massacres – defined as instances of gun violence in which six or more people were shot and killed – fell by 37 percent. The number of people dying from mass shootings fell by 43 percent. But when Republicans in Congress let the ban lapse in 2004, gun massacres more than doubled.

2. The Second Amendment was never intended to permit mass slaughter. When the Constitution was written more than 200 years ago, the framers’ goal was permit a “well-regulated militia,” not to enable Americans to terrorize their communities.

3. More guns have not, and will not, make us safer.More than 30 studies show that guns are linked to an increased risk for violence and homicide. In 1996, Australia initiated a mandatory buyback program to reduce `the number of guns in private ownership. Their firearm homicide rate fell 42 percent in the seven years that followed.

4. The vast majority of Americans want stronger gun safety laws. According to Gallup, 96 percent of Americans support universal background checks, 75 percent support a 30-day waiting period for all gun sales, and 70 percent favor requiring all privately owned guns to be registered with the police. Even the vast majority of gun owners are in favor of common-sense gun safety laws.

5. The National Rifle Association is a special interest group with a stranglehold on the Republican Party. In 2016, the group spent a record $55 million on elections. Their real goal is to protect a few big gun manufacturers who want to enlarge their profits.

America is better than the NRA. America is the young people from Parkland, Florida, who are telling legislators to act like adults. It’s time all of us listen.

Trump Is Right About Syria: It’s Time To Leave

President Trump recently suggested that the United States should come out of Syria “very soon.” Leading voices of the foreign policy establishment — in the Pentagon, State Department, Congress, and the media — pushed back, calling for the United States to stay in Syria. Trump quickly acquiesced. Trump was right (yes, a rarity) while the security state was wrong yet again. It’s long past time for the United States to end its destructive military engagement in Syria and across the Middle East, though the security state seems unlikely to let this happen.

The foreign policy establishment opposes the US exit from Syria on the grounds that it would empower Iran and Russia, Syria’s allies, as made clear in January by former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, in close coordination with Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis. More generally, the security state typically tries to maintain military bases in those places where the United States has once intervened. That is why there are several hundred US military bases around the world in more than 60 countries.

The security state believes that the United States has the right and the means to determine who governs in the Middle East, and which allies they choose. We should fight in Syria, they believe, because the foreign policy establishment doesn’t like Bashar al-Assad and especially the fact that he keeps Iran and Russia as allies. For this reason, Senator Lindsey Graham declared that leaving Syria “is the single worst decision the president could make.”

This naive approach to foreign policy — overthrow the governments we don’t like and replace them with ones we do like — is the crux of the US foreign policy problem. As a result of this approach, the United States has been enmeshed in nonstop wars of regime change in the Middle East and North Africa, including Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, and Libya. Trump once talked about quitting Afghanistan, but the United States remains there too since the security state wants it that way.

The US wars of regime change violate international law, cost trillions of dollars, undermine US democracy as the wars are conducted with secrecy and non-stop lies, and almost always fail in their aims. Either they overthrow the government only to be followed by violence and instability (as in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya) or they fail to overthrow the government, and instead provoke an ongoing bloody war (as in Syria).

It’s time for the US public to understand the Syrian war. The mainstream media have antiseptically described it as a civil war. It has been nothing of the sort. Since its start in 2011, it has been a war pushed by the United States, Saudi Arabia, Israel, Turkey, and others, to topple Assad and force Iran and Russia out of Syria.

In fact, the war has failed to accomplish anything other than to destroy Syria, destabilize Europe, and bleed the United States. Around 500,000 are estimated to have died in the war, with 10 million displaced. Assad is still in power, and Iran and Russia are still his allies. America’s efforts, in short, have been a disaster.

The US decision to try to depose Assad was taken at the time of the 2011 Arab Spring. When protests erupted in Syria, and Assad’s regime ruthlessly suppressed the protesters, President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton moved to remove Assad. They seem to have believed that a quick nudge would topple the regime, and apparently didn’t think very accurately about the likelihood of success.

Since a direct US-led war on Syria would have been a violation of international law, Obama unleashed the CIA to operate covertly with Saudi Arabia and other countries. The CIA and Saudi Arabia teamed up in an operation code-named Timber Sycamore to back anti-Assad Syrian forces and jihadists from outside Syria. There was, of course, no vote by Congress, no honest leveling with the American people, and no UN vote.

The US-Saudi efforts were effectively countered by Syria, Iran, and Russia. In 2014, some of the jihadists broke away to form ISIS and declare a caliphate, after which the United States began to fight ISIS too. The United States backed Kurdish fighters to combat ISIS, eventually driving an irate anti-Kurdish Turkey into an implicit alliance with Russia.

After six years of war, destruction, and failure in Syria, it’s time for the Syrian bloodletting to end, most importantly by ending US support for anti-Assad forces. Yet the security state remains fixated on the presence of Iran and Russia in Syria.

End the war, and let diplomacy under a UN framework sort out the aftermath of a US-led war that never should have occurred. Crucially, the American people must also be vigilant to stop the foreign policy establishment from revving up yet another war, this time with Iran, which would cause an even greater disaster.

It’s Our Job To Finish Dr. Martin Luther King’s Economic Justice Work

I recently travelled to Memphis to headline an event at the National Civil Rights Museum in the Lorraine Motel, the place the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated on April 4, 1968.

While in the hotel, I pictured the trajectory of the assassin’s bullet. With deadly and unstoppable force, the single bullet hit Dr. King’s cheek, shattered his jaw, hit his spine and landed in his shoulder. It was hard to shake the experience of being in the place where he was murdered. It was even harder to reconcile that Dr. King was killed while attempting to stir up the conscience of a nation and bring relief for striking sanitation workers.

The night before his death, Dr. King delivered a prophetic speech where he critiqued the conditions of America that forced African Americans to contend daily with poverty and injustice. In his remarks, he was lifting the veil of what Black people were experiencing. He spoke a liberating and piercing truth that “the nation is sick and the land is in trouble.” He saw African Americans as the canary in the coal mine, reasoning that the Black struggle paralleled the human struggle. In his mind, the nation couldn’t really be free until all of its people were free.

Dr. King reminded the crowd that an awaking was happening in the United States and abroad among people who wanted to be free. He proclaimed a human rights revolution that required action to ameliorate poverty, hurt and neglect. He said if that did not happen, the entire world would suffer from moral failure.

His words and his vision were radical, and his message and purpose were to disrupt the status quo.

While it seemed unlikely at the time, and while he was clear that he himself might not see it, Dr. King was convinced that we, as a people, would get to the promised land. More than 50 years after his death we are farther along but still on a journey to get to the promised land. You may ask, “How will we know when we’ve arrive?” We’ll know we’re there when the notion of income inequality is a lesson in history books, or when universal healthcare and a $15 minimum wage are baseline expectations. We’ll know we’re there when politicians embrace, rather than malign the poor.

At a time when income inequality is the highest it’s ever been, I believe we are on the verge of another great awakening. The awakening is spurred by people who have been left behind by economic injustice, and it’s time for our elected leaders to hear the pleas of the people. As history would teach us, struggles for justice rarely end, they just evolve. Dr. King had a dream, but clearly we are a nation still dreaming. He dreamed of a day when our sons and daughters would be judged by the content of their character rather than the color of their skin. We dream of a day where elected leaders see the humanity of all people regardless of the color of their skin or the zeroes in their bank accounts.

While he dreamed, Dr. King also took action. He wasn’t passively hoping for progress, he was working to make his dream of racial and economic justice a reality. We are obligated to continue the work. Dr. King and others gave the ultimate sacrifice. Our sacrifice is time and energy. Everyone can do something. We can run for office, we can organize in our local communities, we can push for progressive policies and we can challenge our elected leaders to continue pushing this nation to live up to our foundational creed; “all men are created equal and are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” Our collective obligation is to take his memory and continue working to move our nation and world forward.

Anything less is betrayal.

Martin Luther King Jr Was A Radical. We Must Not Sterilize His Legacy

If King were alive today, his words would threaten most of those who now sing his praises.

The major threat of Martin Luther King Jr. to us is a spiritual and moral one. King’s courageous and compassionate example shatters the dominant neoliberal soul-craft of smartness, money and bombs. His grand fight against poverty, militarism, materialism and racism undercuts the superficial lip service and pretentious posturing of so-called progressives as well as the candid contempt and proud prejudices of genuine reactionaries. King was neither perfect nor pure in his prophetic witness – but he was the real thing in sharp contrast to the market-driven semblances and simulacra of our day.

In this brief celebratory moment of King’s life and death we should be highly suspicious of those who sing his praises yet refuse to pay the cost of embodying King’s strong indictment of the US empire, capitalism and racism in their own lives.

We now expect the depressing spectacle every January of King’s “fans” giving us the sanitized versions of his life. We now come to the 50th anniversary of his assassination, and we once again are met with sterilized versions of his legacy. A radical man deeply hated and held in contempt is recast as if he was a universally loved moderate.

These neoliberal revisionists thrive on the spectacle of their smartness and the visibility of their mainstream status – yet rarely, if ever, have they said a mumbling word about what would have concerned King, such as US drone strikes, house raids, and torture sites, or raised their voices about escalating inequality, poverty or Wall Street domination under neoliberal administrations – be the president white or black.

The police killing of Stephon Clark in Sacramento may stir them but the imperial massacres in Yemen, Libya or Gaza leave them cold. Why? Because so many of King’s “fans” are afraid. Yet one of King’s favorite sayings was “I would rather be dead than afraid.” Why are they afraid? Because they fear for their careers in and acceptance by the neoliberal establishment. Yet King said angrily: “What you’re saying may get you a foundation grant, but it won’t get you into the Kingdom of Truth.”

The neoliberal soul craft of our day shuns integrity, honesty and courage, and rewards venality, hypocrisy and cowardice. To be successful is to forge a non-threatening image, sustain one’s brand, expand one’s pecuniary network – and maintain a distance from critiques of Wall Street, neoliberal leaders and especially the Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands and peoples.

Martin Luther King Jr turned away from popularity in his quest for spiritual and moral greatness – a greatness measured by what he was willing to give up and sacrifice due to his deep love of everyday people, especially vulnerable and precious black people. Neoliberal soul craft avoids risk and evades the cost of prophetic witness, even as it poses as “progressive”.

The killing of Martin Luther King Jr was the ultimate result of the fusion of ugly white supremacist elites in the US government and citizenry and cowardly liberal careerists who feared King’s radical moves against empire, capitalism and white supremacy. If King were alive today, his words and witness against drone strikes, invasions, occupations, police murders, caste in Asia, Roma oppression in Europe, as well as capitalist wealth inequality and poverty, would threaten most of those who now sing his praises. As he rightly predicted: “I am nevertheless greatly saddened … that the inquirers have not really known me, my commitment or my calling.”

If we really want to know King in all of his fallible prophetic witness, we must shed any neoliberal soul craft and take seriously – in our words and deeds – his critiques and resistances to US empire, capitalism and xenophobia. Needless to say, his relentless condemnation of Trump’s escalating neo-fascist rule would be unequivocal – but not to be viewed as an excuse to downplay some of the repressive continuities of the two Bush, Clinton and Obama administrations.

In fact, in a low moment, when the American nightmare crushed his dream, King noted: “I don’t have any faith in the whites in power responding in the right way … they’ll treat us like they did our Japanese brothers and sisters in World War II. They’ll throw us into concentration camps. The Wallaces and the Birchites will take over. The sick people and the fascists will be strengthened. They’ll cordon off the ghetto and issue passes for us to get in and out.”

These words may sound like those of Malcolm X, but they are those of Martin Luther King Jr – with undeniable relevance to the neo-fascist stirrings in our day.

King’s last sermon was entitled Why America May Go to Hell. His personal loneliness and political isolation loomed large. J Edgar Hoover said he was “the most dangerous man in America”. President Johnson called him “a nigger preacher”. Fellow Christian ministers, white and black, closed their pulpits to him. Young revolutionaries dismissed and tried to humiliate him with walkouts, booing and heckling. Life magazine – echoing Time magazine, the New York Times, and the Washington Post (all bastions of the liberal establishment) – trashed King’s anti-war stance as “demagogic slander that sounded like a script for Radio Hanoi”.

And the leading black journalist of the day, Carl Rowan, wrote in the Reader’s Digest that King’s “exaggerated appraisal of his own self-importance” and the communist influence on his thinking made King “persona non-grata to Lyndon Johnson” and “has alienated many of the Negro’s friends and armed the Negro’s foes”.

One of the last and true friends of King, the great Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel prophetically said: “The whole future of America will depend upon the impact and influence of Dr King.” When King was murdered something died in many of us. The bullets sucked some of the free and democratic spirit out of the US experiment. The next day over 100 American cities and towns were in flames – the fire this time had arrived again!

Today, 50 years later the US imperial meltdown deepens. And King’s radical legacy remains primarily among the awakening youth and militant citizens who choose to be extremists of love, justice, courage and freedom, even if our chances to win are that of a snowball in hell! This kind of unstoppable King-like extremism is a threat to every status quo!

MLK Called For A Revolution Of Values

Nina Turner, President of our Revolution and Founding Fellow of The Sanders Institute spoke about MLK’s legacy of values at The Real News Network on the 50th Anniversary of MLK’s assassination.


China’s Bold Energy Vision

China’s proposed Global Energy Interconnection – based on renewables, ultra-high-voltage transmission, and an AI-powered smart grid – represents the boldest global initiative by any government to achieve the goals of the Paris climate agreement. It is a strategy fit for the scale of the most important challenge the world faces today.

The boldest plan to achieve the targets set by the 2015 Paris climate agreement comes from China. The Paris accord commits the world’s governments to keeping global warming to well below 2º Celsius (35.6º Fahrenheit) relative to the pre-industrial level. This can be accomplished mainly by shifting the world’s primary energy sources from carbon-based fossil fuels (coal, oil, and natural gas) to zero-carbon, renewable (wind, solar, hydro, geothermal, ocean, biomass), and nuclear energy by the year 2050. China’s Global Energy Interconnection (GEI) offers a breathtaking vision of how to achieve this energy transformation.

Few governments appreciate the scale of this transformation. Climate scientists speak of the “carbon budget” – the total amount of carbon dioxide that humanity can emit in the coming years while still keeping global warming to under 2º. Current estimates put the mid-point estimate of the world’s carbon budget at around 600 billion tons. Humanity currently emits around 40 billion tons of CO2 per year, implying that the world has only until mid-century or even sooner to phase out fossil fuels and move entirely to zero-emission sources of primary energy.

Here’s what needs to be done. Today’s electricity is largely generated by burning coal and natural gas; these thermal power plants need to be phased out and replaced by electricity generated by solar, wind, hydro, nuclear, and other non-carbon sources. Today’s buildings are heated mostly by boilers, radiators, and furnaces fueled by heating oil and natural gas; these need to be replaced by buildings heated by electricity. Today’s vehicles run on petroleum products; these need to be replaced by electric vehicles.

Today’s ships, heavy trucks, and airplanes run on petroleum products as well; in the future, they will need to run on synthetic fuels produced with recycled CO2 and renewable energy, or with hydrogen produced by renewable energy. And the fossil fuels that power today’s industrial processes, such as steel production, will have to be replaced by electricity.

The short answer, therefore, is the massive use of zero-carbon energy, especially renewable energy such as wind and solar power, in the form of electricity. The world has enough zero-carbon energy sources to power the entire global economy – indeed to power a global economy much larger than today’s.

A key step is to bring zero-carbon energy to the population centers that need it. This is where China’s grand vision comes in. In recent years, China has faced the energy-transformation challenge domestically. China’s best supplies of renewable energy (especially wind and solar power) are in Western China, while most of China’s population and energy demand are concentrated on the Pacific (eastern) seaboard. China has been solving this problem by building a massive distribution grid based on ultra-high-voltage (UHV) transmission, which minimizes heat loss along the way. Long-distance UHV transmission is efficient and economical, and China has made major strides in developing this technology.

Now China proposes to help connect the entire world with a UHV global grid. In most of the world, as in China, the highest concentrations of renewable energy (such as the sunniest and windiest places) are far from where people live. Solar power must be carried from deserts to population centers. The potential for wind power is often highest in remote places as well, including offshore. Tremendous hydroelectric potential can be found on distant rivers flowing through unpopulated mountain regions.

The logic behind China’s proposal of a globally connected grid is that renewable energy is intermittent. The sun shines only during the day, and even then, cloud cover disrupts the solar energy reaching photovoltaic panels. Likewise, wind fluctuates in strength. By linking these intermittent sources together, the energy fluctuations can be smoothed. When clouds diminish solar energy in one region, solar or wind power can be used from elsewhere.

Thinking big, China has created an impressive organization – the Global Energy Interconnection Development and Cooperation Organization (GEIDCO) – to bring together national governments, grid operators, academic institutions, development banks, and United Nations agencies to launch the global renewable energy grid. At its global meeting in March, GEIDCO gathered delegates from countries as far-flung as Argentina and Egypt to work together to realize the vision of globally interconnected clean energy.

China is taking several further steps. GEIDCO is mobilizing research and development on several key technology challenges, such as large-scale energy storage, superconductivity in power transmission, and artificial intelligence to manage large interconnected power systems. GEIDCO is also proposing new international technical standards so that countries’ power grids can fit together in a seamless global system. And China is investing heavily in R&D on low-cost renewable energy generation, such as advanced photovoltaics, and end-uses, such as high-performance electric vehicles.

The United States and the European Union should be engaging in the same kind of energy problem-solving, and both should be cooperating with China and others to accelerate the transformation to zero-carbon energy. Regrettably, under President Donald Trump, the US government and its regulatory agencies are entirely in the hands of the fossil-fuel lobby, while the EU bickers with its coal-producing member states about how and when to phase out coal.

China’s proposed global energy interconnection – based on renewables, UHV transmission, and an AI-enabled smart grid – thus represents the boldest and most inspiring global initiative by any government to achieve the goals of the Paris climate agreement. It is a strategy fit for the unprecedented scale of the energy transformation facing our generation.