If you think that the Qatar-financed professorship of Tariq Ramadan is the most ideological under the auspices of the University of Oxford, think again: let me introduce you to “The Oxford Climate Policy” (OCP), financed by a number of different European governments.
The Oxford Climate Policy is one of the think tanks of the Paris Conference on Climate scheduled for December (COP21). To the distinguished professors and lecturers affiliated to the OCP, the challenge is no longer merely to force the West to transfer huge amounts of money to the rest of the world via the Green Climate Fund — that’s “settled”, as climate experts like to say — but to ensure predictability for the happy recipients (see the Managing Director of OCP, Benito Müller’s, “The Paris Predictability Problem”; we take this most recent paper as a reference in the rest of this article).
Dr. Müller’s paper puts the essential source of that unpredictability down to the “politics” of the developed countries, as though decisions on climate funding are somewhat of superior importance to all other public funding decisions and that they alone should be removed from the purview of governments, legislatures and the public. In my view, this presumption demonstrates the fundamentally anti-democratic nature of many of the climate alarmists’ plans. The paper seeks to find a way to exclude the public from the decision-making process governing the raising and distribution of several billion dollars per year, and to hand over control to “an international body”.
Having set a completely unacceptable goal, the paper then offers a few remarkably damaging ways to achieve it. “Plan A” would entail the earmarking and acquisition of funds from different sources directly; that is, without the necessity of annual review and approval by we, the people. The central proposal is that a passenger tax be imposed on international flights to raise between $8 and $10 billion per year for the first five years and then even more in the long term. Such a proposal completely ignores the economics of international civil aviation. The most recent annual report of the International Air Transport Association (IATA), published in 2013, states that, in 2012, the airline industry received $638 billion in revenue from its passengers but made only $7.6 billion in profit. That’s a 1.2 % profit margin, indicating that the industry could easily find itself in serious trouble. Taking $8 to $10 billion off the top in a new charge would either eliminate profits completely or seriously reduce passenger traffic, which would be almost certain to lead to the bankruptcy of several airlines.
That’s just the beginning of the bad news. In 2012, 65% of the growth in passenger numbers took place in the emerging markets, over 50% taking place in Asia. Meanwhile U.S. passenger revenues grew by only 0.8%. In other words, the growth in the industry, such as it is, is not in those developed countries whose passengers would be expected to bear the brunt of funding the Green Climate Fund. Furthermore, any retrenchment in the industry if faced by such a large increase in costs would occur disproportionately in the more developed countries.
Oxford Economics has studied the economic benefits of increased aviation connectivity in 59 countries. These studies showed a wide gamut of economic benefits for governments, industries and individuals alike. The tourism industry is the obvious case in point; nearly 35% of international tourists travel by air. Altogether, Oxford Economics suggests global GDP has been boosted by an additional $200 billion thanks to the increase in air connectivity over the past 20 years.
The paper’s “Plan B” would involve the earmarking of funds from “domestic sources”, meaning ones within countries or economic unions. Here, the proposed model is the EU Financial Transaction Tax (FTT) which would cover financial transactions between financial institutions, of which there are billions every day. According to Dr. Müller’s paper, the European Parliament has already approved a FTT at the rate of 0.1% against the exchange of shares and bonds and 0.01 % across derivative contracts. The plan is that this tax would come into effect on January 1, 2016, dependent on unanimous approval by the eleven participating states. The paper estimates that the revenue from the FTT would be U.S. $41 billion per year (misquoting a report from the Deutsches Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung: the figure is for nine EU countries, not the eleven participating ones).
Think what $41 billion per year on financial transactions would do to the banking and investment industries. Think what it would do to the world’s economies and consumers. The adverse effects on investment, employment and income in the developed countries would be immense, especially coming at a time when the world in trying to find its way out of a prolonged recession.
There are no words to adequately describe how foolish and damaging these proposals are. But more importantly, they go against the very fabric of our democratic institutions.
Dr Drieu Godefridi is the author of The IPCC : A scientific body?