Back in May, I warned IER readers of just how much money officials from the United Nations wanted to wring from hapless Western taxpayers at the upcoming “climate talks” in Paris. A recent Politico story quotes the UN’s top climate change official to confirm my alarm bells. Americans need to be aware of just how openly major officials—this isn’t some low-level bureaucrat—are talking about enormous transfers of money.
Specifically, a November 3 PoliticoPRO piece by Andrew Restuccia (sub required) reported:
[Christiana] Figueres will chair the U.N. climate talks that begin in Paris on Nov. 30, where nearly 200 nations hope to finalize a deal to place limits on heat-trapping emissions and provide financial assistance for poor countries.
Climate negotiators have been sharply divided on the amount of money wealthy governments and businesses should put forward to help developing nations build clean energy projects and adapt to a warmer world. Figueres said the goal of mobilizing $100 billion a year from public and private sources by 2020 is just a starting point…
“This transformation is not about $10 billion. It’s not about $100 billion. It’s about trillions” of dollars, she said. The key question, she continued, is whether the money that will be invested in infrastructure and urbanization over the coming decades will “go into the technologies of the past, in which case we are majorly screwed, or are they going to go into the technologies of this century?” [Bold added.]
You have to give her credit, Ms. Figueres isn’t shy about stating her agenda. Readers may recall that back in February she said, “This is the first time in the history of mankind that we are setting ourselves the task of intentionally…chang[ing] the economic development model that has been reigning for at least 150 years, since the Industrial Revolution.”
Now some critics would say that I am overreacting, and that this huge effort to overturn the existing economic system and to install a transfer of trillions of dollars away from Western nations is actually nothing nefarious, but just a scientific response to the threat of manmade climate change.
However, the ironic thing is that the bare minimum goal of the upcoming Paris talks is to set a ceiling on global warming of 2 degrees Celsius, when the UN’s own climate changes reports don’t justify such a goal.
I Smell a Carbon Tax
Veteran observers of the politics of energy markets have expressed concern to me that the United States and other Western governments will give some type of non-treaty endorsement to the “climate talks” in Paris, including the pledge of filling the coffers of the Green Climate Fund (yes, that’s the actual term). For example, President Obama has already unilaterally pledged a $3 billion U.S. contribution to the GCF.
To be sure, these measures (including the president’s pledge) theoretically all need Congressional approval before the money flows, although we can expect the president to attempt to move money around from various other accounts in the absence of a definite authorization and appropriation to fund his unilateral commitment. What is certain is that the Administration will use the Paris talks to pressure Congress to do and fund what the president wants, arguing that they cannot ruin the United States’ position of leadership on the climate issue. (We heard such language to justify the recent Keystone decision, after all.)
More generally, if the president succeeds in putting the United States on the hook for many billions of dollars annually to a Green Climate Fund, many people would matter-of-factly say that the money for this obligation should come from a new carbon tax. Many supporters of a carbon tax have argued that it should be “revenue neutral,” paying for other tax cuts. But with new obligations abroad to a dedicated climate change fund, there is no way for a new carbon tax to be revenue neutral.
It is fashionable to shut down dissent from massive new government taxes and regulations with the phrase “climate change denier.” Yet one can take the UN’s IPCC reports at face value, if only for the sake of argument, and see that the proposals coming from UN officials have nothing to do with mitigating negative externalities. Instead, as the officials tell us quite openly, those pushing hardest for these measures want to overturn the existing economic order. Stymied in their frontal assault, the proponents of a U.S. carbon tax are checking to see if the back door is barred. The Green Climate Fund is a perfect place for them to try the lock.