We’ll be doing wall-to-wall coverage of the off-the-wall climate talks in Paris this week, but I can hardly do better in setting this up than to recall some of the testimony I presented to the House Foreign Affairs Committee back in 2011. Here are a couple of excerpts:
I will begin with my contentious conclusion, which is that the international diplomacy of climate change is the most implausible and unpromising initiative since the disarmament talks of the 1930s, and for many of the same reasons; that the Kyoto Protocol and its progeny are the climate diplomacy equivalent of the Kellogg-Briand Pact of 1928 that promised to end war (a treaty that is still on the books, by the way), and finally, that future historians are going to look back on this whole period as the climate policy equivalent of wage and price controls to fight inflation in the 1970s. . .
One of the problems of the sheer sprawling nature of climate change science and policy is that it became something of an all-purpose issue on which advocates could attach their pet ideas and concerns. The idea of climate adjustment assistance has revived at the UN an old idea from the 1970s—what was called then the “New International Economic Order.” The premise of the New International Economic Order, as explained at the time by West Germany’s Chancellor Willy Brandt, was that there needed to be “a large scale transfer of resources to developing countries.” This was back in the hey-day of post-colonial Western guilt, and it came to an abrupt end in the 1980s when President Reagan forcefully repudiated it at a UN summit in, coincidentally, Cancun.
But climate assistance has revived the old idea of requiring wealthy nations to indemnify poor nations. The German newspaper Neue Zurcher Zeitung observed shortly before the Cancun summit last year: “The next world climate summit in Cancun is actually an economy summit during which the distribution of the world’s resources will be negotiated.” What prompted this conclusion was a candid admission from a UN official closely involved with the climate negotiations, German economist Ottmar Edenhoffer: “But one must say clearly that we redistribute de facto the world’s wealth by climate policy. Obviously, the owners of coal and oil will not be enthusiastic about this. One has to free oneself from the illusion that international climate policy is environmental policy. This has almost nothing to do with environmental policy anymore.”
I expect we’ll hear a lot of this kind of talk coming out of Paris, because these folks just can’t help themselves when they want to help themselves to your money.