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Nothing Surprising in Leaked Copenhagen Draft Agreement (Updated)

The leaked draft accord has outraged activists and developing nations but contains no real surprises.

by
Christopher Horner

Bio

December 10, 2009 - 12:00 am

Update

Imagine if a Bush administration official had said this:

“Asked about arguments by diplomats and some protesters that the United States should provide hundreds of billions of dollars in aid to developing nations as reparations, Mr. Stern, the special envoy for climate change, bluntly fired back at a news conference. ‘I actually completely reject the notion of a debt or reparations or anything of the like,’ he said. ‘For most of the 200 years since the Industrial Revolution, people were blissfully ignorant of the fact that emissions caused a greenhouse effect. It’s a relatively recent phenomenon.’”

In truth, Arrhenius famously posited the greenhouse effect in 1896. The Industrial Revolution is generally accepted as having begun in or about 1850.  The greenhouse effect is not the same as the modern left’s claim that economic activity must be held in check because Man’s contribution is creating dangerous climate change. But the ignorance is fairly revealing: it’s not about the climate or the science to these people.

Do I need to tell you that the New York Times’ highly political science reporter Andrew Revkin did not blink at this?  The paper has not always been so forgiving of misunderstandings of the matter by political officials.
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If there is something surprising in the leaked draft text developed by the U.S., UK, Denmark, and (maybe) others that transfers the management of Kyoto II’s billions to the World Bank, I haven’t seen it. This Guardian story cites outraged activists and hangers-on in Copenhagen over the contents.

After reading the text, I have to conclude that this is either a leak intended to gain traction for phonied-up outrage to spin things here as somehow headed in a reasonable direction, or else it is the hysterics of an exceedingly paranoid global warming establishment fearful of anything it didn’t actually have a hand in drafting.

Anyway, here’s my read of things.

Any possible window dressing of moving management from the UN to the World Bank is not actually declared or apparent anywhere in the document’s text. Article 22 makes clear that a “Climate Fund be established as an operating entity of” a mechanism under the existing “Rio” treaty framework, ratified by the U.S. and which Kyoto amended and implemented.

The same corrupt Mother Ship, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), implements and monitors funding. The document asserts that additional revenues will come from aviation and shipping (read: international commerce, airline, and cruise ship) taxes. This is hardly change we can believe in.

Once ratified, these finance decisions will be implemented by consensus and, failing that, a two-thirds vote, of which the U.S. has an equal voice with our peers from Andorra to Zimbabwe. Even if there were some grounds in this document that would result in a claim that someone was trying to remove financing from the UN to a separate entity, it should be viewed like the current effort to claim that a non-profit entity would manage what is otherwise called the “public option” in the health care takeover. Clearly the claim is made to avoid the notion that it is government-run insurance.

It would be purely optics, and the scheme still quacks, flies, and does everything else like the old duck. The principal outrage from the welfare states clinging to Kyoto II as a revenue stream is that there is some inkling that they might actually have to do something under what this draft text envisions. Not hardly.

The motivations of this global energy rationing scheme, administered through some supranational body or otherwise international framework, have always been at minimum two-fold: get the U.S. in check and keep the poor from getting Western-style rich. This document  reflects both of those desires.

It caps our economic activity, barring unforeseen developments in energy technology so staggering as to be truly “breakthrough,” keeping the U.S. handcuffed economically while picking our pockets and keeping the poor world poor as part of the deal.

Kyoto II, or whatever one wishes to call the second phase of the 2002-2012 Kyoto Protocol, was understood all along to be 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. Until recent months, it was acknowledged at the highest levels that Kyoto II included them in some allegedly meaningful way beyond receiving wealth transfers but also
requiring actual “reductions” (even if from artificially high, business-as-usual levels).

It was on this understanding that those few covered countries agreed to this first five-year plan. This changed suddenly in recent months as the Copenhagen talks loomed. So, for some rich countries to now say ok, it’s time to follow through on a decade-long promise made as something of a conditional precedent to those thirty five developed countries who agreed to reduce their emission levels (also mostly rigged, by clever baselines and the like) is not shocking. This call will not be consummated in any meaningful way, but its emergence is not surprising or reason to reevaluate Kyoto and Copenhagen as serious enterprises.

But this call remains unimpressive. By committing select  developing countries to the gauzy notion of “nationally appropriate mitigation actions,” and making clear these actions will be underwritten by the rest of us, the document offers nothing but voluntary compliance, and a largely free lunch. These actions “could” lead to some unspecified reduction from current emission levels — which will also be a rigged number — that assumes no efficiency improvements, which is traditionally experienced by developing economies.

The document doesn’t assign any figures either, even for purposes of leverage or pressure. It’s up to the countries squealing about the prospect of having to do anything about emissions except lift the enormous bags of money parachuted out of our C-130s. It also reaffirms fealty to Kyoto’s “common but differentiated responsibilities” standard, which has been used as the excuse for wildly disparate requirements that would be applicable to these countries. As part of this, it reaffirms supposed historic Western liability for past industrialization, as opposed to recognizing that but for select industrialization the poor would be even 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.” Critically, the paper confirms  that this money will be new money, and that a few European noises about recasting foreign aid as “climate aid” shall not pass (Article 21).

It also means institutionalizing the third world as a perpetual welfare state, with “rents” in return for accepting their station, if there is some level of improvement (but not what you would consider “development” in the western understanding of the word). This proposal still envisions extracting enormous wealth from the U.S. and, to a lesser extent, other developed countries to underwrite that understanding.

The  draft offers nothing worth pursuing any more than the rest of what has been produced in Kyoto/Kyoto II’s sorry history. In fact, it clearly perpetuates the mess while trying to keep the process from spinning into a full-blown “climate reparations” agreement, as some are pushing.

Christopher Horner is a senior fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, and author of the recently-published The Liberal War on Transparency: Confessions of a Freedom of Information "Criminal".
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