Hot Air from the UN

Hot Air from the UN
By Joseph Klein | November 20, 2006

In a last-minute bid to create a positive spin for his legacy, U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan is promoting the United Nations’ role in saving the world from an imminent global warming catastrophe. Here is how he so modestly put it in a speech at this month’s International Climate Change Conference held in Nairobi, Kenya:

Global climate change must take its place alongside those threats — conflict, poverty, the proliferation of deadly weapons — that have traditionally monopolized first-order political attention. And the United Nations offers the tools the world needs to respond. Regional and national initiatives have their value. But the UN Framework Convention is the forum in which a truly global response is being formulated.

Annan was right when he also said in his speech that the question is no longer whether climate change is happening, but rather how we deal with it. However, all that the UN offers in this regard is enough hot air to cause a global warming crisis of its own.

The Nairobi climate change gabfest is yet another in a long series of UN sponsored global environmental conferences that promulgate biased studies, produce alarmist statements that exaggerate the magnitude of the problem, devise wrong-headed solutions and end up ritually blaming the United States. Rather than try constructively to amass the world’s leading scientific talent, with sufficient funding and dedicated commitment for the purpose of researching and developing alternative renewable sources of energy and fuel efficient technologies at competitive prices, millions of dollars continue to be wasted on existing UN programs and conferences.

Thus, the UN’s idea of a “truly global response” to the problem of global warming follows its same old self-righteous paths – extending the Kyoto Protocol’s mandatory emission quotas beyond 2012, instituting global taxes to distribute wealth from the industrialized West to developing countries, and scaring our kids with misleading information about the terrible ills inflicted on the sacred Earth by us rich greedy Westerners.

The Kyoto Protocol continues to be all about imposing binding emissions quotas on the richest industrialized countries. Since the Kyoto Protocol does not include any binding targets and timetables for developing countries including China and India, they could continue their rapid growth and emit greenhouse gases without incurring any penalties whatsoever. China is on a path to soon equal or surpass the United States in such gas emissions. It now has some of the worst polluted cities and rivers in the world. Yet there is no change in China’s exemption from accountability for its contribution to global warming. Indeed, Kofi Annan has actually gone out of his way to praise China for simply making an “effort” to deal with its environmental problems.

Under the Kyoto Protocol’s skewed formula for calculating each developed country’s mandated emission reduction target, the United States alone would have incurred approximately 66% of the total cost of carbon reduction for the whole world if it had gone along, even though it produces a little under 22% of the world’s GDP and accounts for no more than 25% of global emissions of carbon dioxide.1 Estimates by the Energy Information Agency show U.S. Gross Domestic Product losses averaging as high as 4.2% annually by 2010 if the United States had agreed to the Kyoto Protocol’s anti-growth agenda.

French President Jacques Chirac also sees the United Nations’ Kyoto Protocol as “the first component of authentic global governance.”2 Angry that the United States refused to surrender its national sovereignty and put its economy at risk to suit the global governance crowd, France is now pressing for punitive “carbon” taxes on industrial imports into any of the European Union member nations from countries that refused to sign the Kyoto Protocol. This means that any American products imported into an EU country under this scheme could be assessed a special import tax on the energy consumed within the United States in the course of producing the imported product before they would be allowed to be sold to that country’s consumers. Meanwhile any products exported from that same country to the United States would receive an indirect subsidy from the home country in the form of an energy cost rebate, on the theory that the exporter had incurred higher costs than their American counterparts in complying with the Kyoto Protocol. The net effect would be to punish the United States with trade reprisals for exercising its sovereign right under the U.S. Constitution and U.N. Charter not to join a treaty with which it disagrees.

The Swiss, for their part, are even more ambitious. They are pushing for an international tax on greenhouse gases that would be paid into an international fund to help poor countries cope with droughts, floods and storms purportedly caused by global warming. This is not a new idea by any means. The United Nations itself has been advocating such a global carbon tax for years. Back in 2001, for example, a UN panel commissioned by Kofi Annan in advance of the UN Financing for Development world conference, whose members included former US Secretary of the Treasury Robert Rubin, endorsed the idea of a carbon tax. A Technical Note published about the same time by the UN Secretariat also examined a global carbon tax proposal. Estimated annual revenues from a global carbon tax range anywhere from the UN’s own conservative projection of $125 billion a year to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s projection of as much as $750 billion a year by 2020.3 Taxes raised in the U.S. would represent about 20% of the world total – i.e., somewhere $25 billion dollars and $150 billion dollars a year coming out of the pockets of U.S. taxpayers to be administered and re-distributed through the same corrupt UN bureaucracy that had seen some of the Iraqi oil-for-food revenues redistributed into some of their own pockets and into the pockets of Saddam Hussein’s best friends!

Finally, the United Nations Environmental Programme is spending our money to come out with scary children’s fairy tales about global warming. Sedena, the Mother of the Sea, is featured in the UN Environmental Programme’s latest children’s book on global warming entitled “Tore and the Town on Thin Ice”. This book tells the story of a young boy named Tore who lives in a village in the Arctic and is upset when he loses a dog sled race. The Mother of the Sea appears in Tore’s dream and informs him that the thinning ice, which caused his loss in the dog sled race, was due to man-made global warming.

But that is nothing compared to what it is doing to the Mother of the Sea’s own dominion and to all living creatures. She sends an owl, a polar bear, and a whale to scare poor Tore into thinking that they will become extinct during his lifetime and that “our world is melting” from climate changes, mostly caused by those bad people in “rich countries” who are spewing gases in the air from their “huge cars”, air conditioners and the like. In the words of the whale, children like Tore should “get good and angry”. The book ends with a so-called “facts” section, blaming climate change on the “Industrial Revolution in Europe and North America” and singling out the United States in particular for its contribution to the production of “carbon dioxide added by humans.” It claims that “climate change will hit the poorer countries hardest” while at the same time saying that New York along with other coastal areas “could disappear beneath the waves.”

It seems that scaring children is right up there in the UN toolbox to fix global warming that Kofi Annan is so proud of, along with the Left’s favorite concoctions of global taxes, wealth redistribution and the anti-growth Kyoto Protocol. If Annan had his way, the UN’s “experts” would lead all of the member states to a common top-down solution under UN global governance auspices. But the UN will certainly do far more harm than good, as it has with just about every other problem that it has meddled in. What else can we expect from such a corrupt, mismanaged and feckless institution? Let us hope that Kofi Anan’s successor, Ban Ki Moon, concentrates on cleaning up the UN and does not continue Annan’s tendency to embark on grandiose plans to save the world.

Instead, the United States should look for realistic multilateral alternatives to solve common problems like global warming without sacrificing our national sovereignty. For example, we can work with countries like Australia, China and India on voluntary reduction targets and on investing in joint climate control technological initiatives. A problem as serious as global warming deserves serious and creative responses – not the fairy tales and stale potions served up by the United Nations.