The Rosett Report

Climate Corruption 101

Never mind where you might stand on the question of global warming, global cooling, climate change or plain old weather. If there’s one constant to  this entire climate debate, it is that in the name of “climate,” the United Nations wishes to regulate and tax the economy of the planet — stripping resources from the most productive economies to hand them out as assorted UN bureaucrats deem fit.

This is an agenda for global central planning — which, at the extreme, is what the Soviet Union envisioned as the radiant future of mankind, at least until the USSR itself collapsed as a basket case of monstrously misallocated resources, pervaded by the nightmare repression required to enforce such a system. Nonetheless, at the UN this agenda keeps coming up, year after year, at one climate conference after another. The proclamations of emergency have varied, but always, in the middle of it, there is the UN, proposing to serve as planner and traffic cop for global commerce — a role that entails the UN aiming to redirect resources and collecting a cut to cover the administrative enterprises of its own neo-colonial empire of agencies, organizations, intergovernmental outfits, programs and special envoys. Somehow that already includes a need for climate conferees to travel great distances at other people’s expense, with UN officials touching down from business class long-haul flights to spend a week, or maybe two, conferring at luxury hotels in locations such as Rio, Copenhagen, Cancun and Bali.

Right now, at the UN Climate Change Conference in Durban, South Africa, they’re at it again, conferring for a fortnight. There, they are trying to design a “Green Climate Fund,” hoping to impose some form of global taxes that would bring in some $100 billion per year, to be redistributed to countries the UN decides are most at risk from change in climate. Reports have been emerging that the UN is eyeing a “carbon” tax on shipping, or international financial transactions, or cross-border aviation. Of course, this would raise the cost of commerce for everyone, so there is a further proposal, reports AFP, to use some of the money to compensate developing countries, at the expense of the most productive countries, for the higher costs. Such an arrangement would presumably require yet more intervention from the UN, since someone would have to decide which countries should be compensated, and to what extent — presumably a changing scene, as economic shifts occur — and of course there would be a need for more international bureaucrats to administer such a scheme. It’s also a good bet that more UN bureaucrats would also devote some of their time to coming up with yet more global tax schemes. The possibilities are staggering.

As a recipe for corruption of monumental scope, this is brilliant. It would open money spigots on a scale the UN to date has only dreamt of. A direct tax on global trade — in whatever form (shipping, aviation or finance) would free the UN from such inconveniences as drumming up voluntary but finite contributions from member states, or operating with a budget somewhat constrained by assessed dues. Not since the UN’s Oil-for-Food program tapped right into a 2.2% cut of the late Saddam Hussein’s oil sales has the UN had such access to rivers of cash… except this is bigger. Much bigger. Tapping directly into global trade would dwarf Saddam’s billions in oil revenues.

Who would oversee this? Who would ensure that this Great Muddy of cash would flow to those in need, rather than lining the pockets of dictators whose regimes ensure that their countries remain “developing” but never actually develop? Who would report back to the public on cases of waste, fraud and abuse? Who would weigh the joys of doling out billions against the hidden costs of business lost and growth sacrificed to bankroll this new tax burden? The UN?

Not a chance. The UN is a collective, encased in immunity, prone to horrific waste and abuse, and likewise prone to endless promises of reform and transparency which never quite work out — because there is no mechanism to hold the UN to account, or require that its officials comply with their promises. Even the U.S., which contributes 22% of the UN’s core budget, pours billions into the UN system, and periodically tries to clean the place up, has scant luck. In the 193-member General Assembly, the U.S. casts only one vote. The General Assembly budget process is one in which the U.S. provides the biggest share of the money, and a majority of other states out-vote the U.S. in deciding how it will be spent. Former Secretary-General Kofi Annan, having presided over the monumentally corrupt Oil-for-Food program, exited in 2006 amid a cloud of promises that the UN would begin providing full financial disclosure by senior officials, and a UN Freedom of Information Act. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon arrived in office promising full transparency and a system-wide independent audit. None of that ever happened.

Now we have the UN pitching plans — again — for taxes on world commerce that would pluck scores of billions directly from the private sector every year, and send this lucre through the skimmers of the UN system, to be reallocated as the UN might prefer. This would be the same UN system that annually hosts Iran’s Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to speak from its main stage in New York; just put Syria on the committee that oversees human rights at UNESCO; and serves as home to powerful General Assembly voting blocs such as the Saudi-headquartered Organization of the Islamic Conference — with its self-serving campaign to impose a global gag on free speech. This would be the same UN where a few years ago a special task force began exposing massive corruption in procurement, and the UN response was to dissolve the task force. Whatever you believe, or don’t believe, about the who-what-why of climate, the UN is not equipped to serve as honest cop — and handing the UN the power to levy direct taxes in the name of “climate” is an invitation to change of a kind the world does not need.