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Climate Corruption 101

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.