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Lorrie Goldstein: The Political Insanity Of Climate Change

A definition of political insanity is doing the same thing over and over, expecting different results. Based on that, politicians supporting the so-called “solutions” to man-made global warming — Kyoto accord, cap-and-trade, carbon taxes, renewable energy — are insane.

That’s because none of these things has worked in the real world — assuming the goal is to lower man-made carbon dioxide emissions — and yet they keep promoting them.

The UN’s Kyoto accord is a fiasco, falsely billed as a global treaty to combat global warming.

In fact, Kyoto was ratified by a few dozen industrialized countries who are a small part of the problem — including (under Jean Chretien) Canada, with 2% of global emissions.

The accord places no demands on China, the world’s largest emitter, or on the entire developing world, where emissions are now rising the fastest.

It doesn’t impact the U.S., the world’s second-largest emitter, which never ratified Kyoto.

Since China and the U.S. are responsible for 40% of global emissions, Kyoto, or any successor treaty which doesn’t include them, obviously won’t work.

Cap-and-trade, now recklessly advocated by Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff even in the absence of a bilateral agreement with the U.S., is another fiasco.

Europe’s had cap-and-trade since 2005. From its inception, the Emissions Trading Scheme failed to lower emissions — in fact, they rose — until 2008, when the global recession, not carbon trading, cut them.

Instead, the ETS drove up prices for such necessities as electricity and provided windfall profits to utility companies and speculators.

The international carbon credit system on which the ETS is built, is riddled with multi-billion-dollar frauds.

As for a carbon tax, advocated by former Liberal leader Stephane Dion in 2008, Norway’s had one since 1991. In 2002, Statistics Norway concluded it had little impact on emissions.

Real-world experience with renewable energy — such as utility-scale wind turbines and solar panels — has shown that not only are these technologies impractical at present without huge public subsidies, they also fail to deliver promised emission reductions.

Meanwhile, they create other environmental problems due to the large amount of land they require and some of the materials needed to manufacture them.

But what if the purpose of these failed policies isn’t to lower emissions, but something else?

Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who, sadly, no longer talks as honestly about these matters as he once did, was attacked in opposition for describing Kyoto as a “socialist scheme to suck money out of wealth-producing nations.”

But an official of the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change said much the same thing last year, prior to a major climate meeting in Cancun, albeit more positively.

As German economist Ottmar Edenhofer, co-chairman of the IPCC’s Working Group III, explained:

“Basically, it’s a big mistake to discuss climate policy separately from the major themes of globalization. The climate summit in Cancun is not a climate conference, but one of the largest economic conferences since the Second World War, one must say clearly that we redistribute de facto the world’s wealth by climate policy.”

To Edenhofer, this was desirable because developed countries “having basically expropriated the atmosphere of the world community” would now use a portion of the wealth this generated to assist developing countries in growing their economies in environmentally responsible ways.

Of course, if none of these programs reduce emissions, then the exercise simply becomes a permanent “sin tax” imposed on developed countries like Canada for using fossil fuels to produce energy, a portion of which will be paid in perpetuity to the developing world.

If that’s the goal — plus providing governments in the developed world with a massive new revenue stream paid for by ordinary citizens — then all these failed policies make perfect sense.

Toronto Sun, 12 April 2011