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UN Economists Propose Fast-Track Green Taxes For $100 Billion Climate Fund

A leading group of economists advising UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has called for a raft of new green taxes to raise the US$100 billion a year committed by the 110 participant nations who signed December’s Copenhagen Accord. The call won’t come as music to the ears of taxpayers globally – and particularly Canadian taxpayers.

Canadians are already among the biggest contributors to UN aid funds, including more than $300 million to the World Food Program, and almost $70 million to run the UN itself. Canada is also one of the few nations to pony up on its climate commitments at Copenhagen after Environment Minister Jim Prentice announced the country was committing $400 million (US$382 million) – around 4 percent of the pledge of industrialized nations combined – to make good on Canada’s climate aid pledge.

However, the Bonn meeting broke up with a repeat performance of the disarray and recriminations between the rich and poor, developed and developing nations that marked the Copenhagen summit. Many observers believe there’s zero chance of brokering a meaningful climate deal at November’s global summit in Cancun, Mexico.

Speaking to Troy Media, Benny Peiser, Director of the UK’s Global Warming Policy Foundation, said: “The developing nations are not stupid. They have ensnared the West in a climate trap that green politicians set for themselves. Developing countries are demanding $200 billion to $400 billion – per annum – for so-called climate compensation and adaptation measures, together with billions worth of technology transfers. It is hard to see that the West, battered by the worst economic crisis since the Second World War, would ever agree to such a wealth transfer to its chief competitors — even in good times.” (The GWPF is a think tank founded last year, independent of political parties, primarily “to restore balance and trust in the climate debate that is frequently distorted by prejudice and exaggeration” and which the group also describes as often “unbalanced,” “alarmist” and “intolerant.”)

UN credibility

It’s not been a good year for the UN IPCC’s scientific credibility, nor, it seems, for finding funds for it to “govern” the ‘climate change fight.’ Climate-gate, Himalaya-gate, Amazon Rainforest-gate, spurious sea-level claims, mistakes over African crop yields, and other scandals relating to the IPCC’s use of data that are poor or misleading or about which doubts have been raised have all taken their toll. Now consensus on the right criteria for raising cash too is proving elusive. But what marks out the Bonn conference is that the UN itself, a transgovernmental body, is being urged to raise enormous sums via national taxation. And that would mean governments handing over to the UN US$1 trillion a decade for UN – a bureaucracy financially accountable to no electorate.

The participants at Bonn issued their call as a clutch of post-Copenhagen financial hassles have left UN climate officials frustrated. Numerous states are accused of backtracking on their pledge to raise US$30 billion for poorer nations by 2012, particularly European states who have been forced to make swingeing domestic budget cuts. The economist panel also noted that loopholes in the Kyoto Protocol climate treaty risk wiping out emissions-reductions pledges by as much as 10 percent utilizing “flexible clauses” in the Protocol.

But the UN economist panel has its own credibility problems.

One of the panel’s leading lights is British economist Nicholas Stern, author of the famously alarmist Stern Report. Stern, like the IPCC, has faced increasing criticism in the UK over his own use of climate-science-associated data. A striking example is where the Stern Report cites Robert Muir-Wood’s work as head of the US consulting firm Risk Management Solutions. The Report said: “News analysis based on insurance industry data has shown that weather-related catastrophe losses have increased by 2 percent each year since the 1970s over and above changes in wealth, inflation and population growth/movement … If this trend continued or intensified with rising global temperatures, losses from extreme weather could reach 0.5 percent – 1 percent of world GDP by the middle of the century.” Muir-Wood, however, said his research showed nothing of the kind and accused Stern of “going far beyond what was an acceptable extrapolation of the evidence.” Neither is it the only severe critique of the uber-alarmist report.

Public anger

Dr. Peiser points out, “The trouble is that climate policies and green taxes once considered trendy, have turned into major liabilities for many governments – so much so that climate schemes in Europe, the US and Australia have been dumped in response to a public backlash.” Dr Peiser adds: “Surveys suggest that more than 70 percent of British voters are not willing to pay higher taxes to fund climate change initiatives….. Consequently, taxes will inevitably raise the level of public anger and scepticism.”

The UN economists clearly see a new “indirect” green-tax regime as a way around the acrimonious international impasse and the tardy response in meeting national pledges. The taxes they suggest include new carbon levies, international air fare taxes, auctioning the right to pollute and cross-border financial deals, as well as taxes on government grants and loans, each potentially raising US$10 billion annually.

The call for a raft of green taxes, by a nongovernment bureaucracy, in recent years already excoriated for its lack of good financial accounting via the scandal of the 2003 oil-for-food program, also raises the prospect of a new global order, an order outside electorally accountable governance able to raise funds by proxy. But the growing dilemma for the UN’s climate-fund administrators and democratic government alike is, according to Dr. Peiser, an even more basic PR one: “For most voters today, green means more expensive, a very negative perception that is only going to get worse”. As far as weary Western taxpayers are concerned, it seems that ‘saving the earth’ shouldn’t mean costing it.

The author takes up the theme of the dangers of undermining democracy by empowering transnational (UN and EU) governance in his forthcoming book Energy and Climate Wars: How naive politicians, green ideologues and media elites are undermining the truth about energy and climate.

Troy Media, 12 August 2010