Sunday, November 15, 2009

The Real Agenda Behind Climate Change

In various buildings housing outposts of the European Union hang signs which boldly state “You Control Climate Change” and extol the virtues of lowering the personal carbon footprint of those employed by the EU.

Some employees, including senior officers, it seems, believe that drastically reducing carbon emissions will stop climate change. Others have another agenda.

That agenda sees the “climate-change crisis,” largely engendered by the media and a small group of scientists, as a valuable cloak by which to achieve sustainable development, wealth and technology transfers, energy security and a restoration of “balance” in the global economy. Put simply, many of the smart people in the EU organizations know that climate change is a natural process, but see it as a convenient means of furthering the pursuit of a new socio-economic policy.

The goal of the new policy is to slow global population growth, with a view to reducing poverty, especially in emerging economies. The first step to its implementation was the need to link economic development and growth with a renewed concern for the quantity, nature and quality of natural resources.

The next step to creating a sustainable world economy, the thinking goes, is the transfer of wealth and technology from the developed world to the emerging economies.

With that in mind, the EU is expected to recommend, at December’s Copenhagen global warming summit, that the developed world transfer $100 billion per year to the emerging world to create an essential pillar for accelerating economic development , a mechanism which is also known to slow the rate of population growth. Once the second strategic pillar – the rapid transfer of emerging technologies, especially “green” technologies – is added, it is believed that the seeds for rapid development of new and sustainable industry sectors will be well on its way.

For the United States, there are additional benefits to linking naturally-occurring climate change and energy security: it will be able to reduce its reliance on Middle Eastern oil and increase its ability to generate energy through wind, solar, nuclear and oil — provided it can be produced in a green and sustainable way from local neighbours, including Canada.

While energy security has been an avowed objective of US policy since the Nixon administration, US President Barack Obama has elevated it to the heart of the climate change policy debate.

To pay for energy security, governments need such new sources of revenue as carbon taxes and levies on fuels, airline travel and recyclable equipment, among a variety of other things. They are all also encouraging their citizens to become carbon-conscious, which also generates new transferable funds for governments to use. For example, the sale of carbon permits in the US, after the first allocations, is estimated to be worth over $600 billion.

Part of the rhetoric to sell this energy-security agenda revolves around the argument — yet to be proven in any jurisdiction — that a focus on renewable energy and energy security will create millions of new jobs. While there is no doubt that new jobs certainly will be created, they generally come with the loss of other jobs in more traditional carbon-intensive industries.

In Spain, for example, each of its new green jobs was connected to the loss of 2½ jobs from other sectors. The issue should not be the number of new jobs created in green industries, but net job gain as a result of new economic activity.

For some policy makers, the climate-change “crisis” affords them the opportunity to rebalance the economy away from wealth for a few as a result of globalization to a more equitable distribution of wealth. And in geopolitical and family terms, under such a scenario, wealth creation comes increasingly from sustainable economic activity.

Simply put, the climate change debate is being used by policy makers to eradicate poverty.

These serious-minded policy makers know that climate change is more complex than has been presented to the general public and that scientists have many complex views about what is happening and what might happen. But the cloak of a global crisis provides a unique opportunity to pursue what is, in their view, a noble agenda.

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