The U.K.’s Guardian reported this week that, according to a leaked draft text, a group of nations calling itself the “Circle of Commitment” — which includes the U.S., the U.K., Denmark, and possibly others — is transferring the management of Kyoto II’s billions to the World Bank. Activists and hangers-on are outraged, but I fail to see anything surprising in the leaked document.
The idea of moving management from the U.N. to the World Bank is not actually made explicit in the document’s text. Article 22 makes clear that this “Climate Fund be established as an operating entity of” a mechanism under the existing Rio Treaty framework, which the Kyoto Protocol amended and implements (though the U.S. ratified only the former). The same corrupt organization, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), will manage and monitor funding under the draft text, which also asserts that additional revenues shall come from aviation and shipping taxes (read: taxes on international commerce, airlines, and cruise ships). Once ratified, these finance decisions will be implemented by consensus and, failing that, a two-thirds vote, in which the U.S. will have an equal vote with each of our U.N. peers from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe.
The principal outrage from the welfare states hoping to secure a revenue stream from Kyoto II arises from a suggestion that, according to this draft text, they might actually have to do something emissions-wise under the agreement this draft text envisions. As if.
This international energy-rationing scheme has always had two major objectives: Get the U.S. in check, and keep the poor from getting Western-style rich. This document still quite plainly reflects both of those desires. Kyoto II, Kyopenhagen, or whatever one wishes to call the second phase of the 2008–2012 Kyoto Protocol, was all along understood as something that “necessarily” must include those large, developing economies like China, India, Mexico, Brazil, Indonesia, South Korea, and others among Kyoto’s 155 exempt nations. For a decade, it was acknowledged at the highest levels that Kyoto II of course would include them in some allegedly meaningful way – not just by receiving wealth transfers but also by being required to make actual reductions in their carbon-energy use (even if compared with an artificially high business-as-usual baseline).
It was on this understanding that those few covered countries agreed to the first five-year plan. This understanding changed only recently — without announcement and quite suddenly – as the Copenhagen talks loomed.
Some rich countries are now saying it’s time to follow through on this decade-old promise — since the 35 developed countries that agreed to emissions reductions (hypothetically, at least) in Kyoto only did so based on the eventual fulfillment of this promise — but this call will not be consummated in any meaningful way. Its emergence is not surprising, nor is it any reason to start considering Kyoto and Copenhagen as serious enterprises.
Even on its own terms, the draft’s obligations are unimpressive. By committing selected developing countries to the gauzy notion of “nationally appropriate mitigation actions,” and making clear that these will be underwritten by the rest of us, it amounts to a largely free lunch. Nor does the document assign any figures for emissions reductions (even rigged ones), if only for the purpose of negotiating leverage or applying pressure through the leaked document. The countries now squealing about the prospect of having to do anything emissions-wise are expected to do so voluntarily, and need only lift the enormous bags of money parachuted out of our C-130s.
The document also reaffirms, up front, fealty to Kyoto’s “common but differentiated responsibilities” standard – which has been used as an excuse for wildly disparate emissions-reduction requirements. It thus reaffirms supposed historical liability for past industrialization, as opposed to recognizing that, but for select industrialization, the global poor would be vastly poorer.
This draft document calls for “substantially scaled up financial resources” — from us, of course. “Resources will . . . flow through multiple bilateral and multilateral channels.” That does not replace the UN with the World Bank (though presumably it is the hook on which the Guardian’s claim was hung). It simply says money can go from the UN to various groups, not just Party states. Uh oh. Critically, the document confirms that this money will be new money — on top of present foreign-aid disbursements.
What this new system means is that the Third World will be institutionalized for decades as a perpetual welfare state, collecting “rents” in return for accepting its station. This proposal still envisions extracting enormous wealth from the U.S. and, to a lesser extent, other developed countries to underwrite that understanding. This “Circle of Commitment” draft offers nothing worth pursuing, nothing any better than the rest of what has been produced in Kyoto’s sorry history.
– Christopher C. Horner is a senior fellow with the Competitive Enterprise Institute, author of Red Hot Lies: How Global Warming Alarmists Use Threats, Fraud, and Deception to Keep You Misinformed, and a contributor to Planet Gore.