U.N. Climate Conference in Lima Absurd as Usual

COMMENTARY Environment

U.N. Climate Conference in Lima Absurd as Usual

Dec 11th, 2014 4 min read
COMMENTARY BY
Katie Tubb

Policy Analyst

Katie Tubb is a policy analyst for energy and environmental issues in the Thomas A. Roe Institute for Economic Policy Studies.

U.N. nations are immersed in their second week of climate talks in Lima, Peru. The goal is to lay groundwork for a binding international climate agreement in Paris next December committing nations to greenhouse gas emissions cuts and “climate financing” for developing nations. This is the 20th such conference since 1995 and it stands as no surprise that events surrounding Lima have proved to be just as absurd as in previous years. Here are the six things you need to know.

  1. China’s false promise. The U.S. and China announced an agreement to cut carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions in advance of the Lima conference. The deal amounts to a pinky swear promise from a “broke, addicted gambler to his bookie to pay later.” President Obama promised cuts of 26 percent to 28 percent below 2005 levels by the year 2025 as the Environmental Protection Agency is attempting to do through power plant regulations, a move that will certainly cripple the economy. China on the other hand “intends” to level off emissions “around” 2030, according to the deal.
  1. $100 billion a year? The U.N. has set a goal of $100 billion a year by 2020 to help developing nations with climate change adaptation and investments in green infrastructure. Much attention at Lima has been focused on an intermediate goal of $10 billion by 2014’s end. Some of the funds already pledged ironically include $1 billion in loans by the Japanese government for Japanese companies to build coal power plants in Indonesia, India, and Vietnam. Meanwhile, China announced its own “South-South Cooperation Fund.” It appears the U.N.’s global warming charity fund is little more than a disguise for a disorganized slush fund.
  1. More like trillions? Negotiators are already saying $100 billion in climate financing isn’t enough, even while the intermediate goal of $10 billion has yet to be reached. China, of course, having protected its economy from CO2 emissions cuts until 2030 (maybe), made clear that climate financing from developing nations is “far from adequate” and that regional competitor Australia’s refusal to contribute was unacceptable. Executive Secretary for the U.N.’s conventions on climate change, Christiana Figueres, further admitted that the $100 billion is merely a “proxy” to win the trust of developing countries and that “we are talking here about trillions of dollars that need to flow into the transformation at a global level” over the next 15 years.
  1. Any climate treaty equates to loss of sovereignty.Americans should be very concerned about what these conferences ultimately are attempting to accomplish. At the U.N. climate conference in Doha in 2012, Figueres said, “It must be understood that what is occurring here, not just in Doha but in the whole climate change process, is a complete transformation of the economic structure of the world.” While President Obama cannot commit the U.S. to an international treaty without the approval of the Senate, that doesn’t mean he hasn’t considered implementing similar climate policies.
  1. Time for the U.S. to pull out. The greatest absurdity, though, is the U.N. conference itself. For all the scare tactics coming out of the U.N. and many western nations, data have yet to show that the world is headed toward accelerating and catastrophic global warming. The world has not seen any warming in the 21st century and much of the 1990s even while CO2 emissions have steadily increased. But that hasn’t stopped many Western nations from pursuing economic policies that stop the use of conventional fuels and attempt to replace them with expensive and less reliable green technology, while pressuring developing nations to do the same.
  1. Focus on access to affordable, reliable energy. Perhaps one of the more sane comments on the U.N.’s climate goals came from the Environmental Minister of India, Prakash Javadekar, who argued that poverty is an “environmental disaster” that India had a “right” and responsibility to address first with economic growth. “Unless we tackle poverty, unless we eradicate poverty, we cannot really address the climate change,” Javadekar said. While elites in Lima and later in Paris barter and swap CO2 emissions cuts for green financing, there are billions of people all around the world with little or no access to affordable, reliable energy and the opportunities energy unlocks.

Too many government policies, at home and abroad, put opportunity further out of reach for people under the misguided notion of making a dent in global warming. In the process, they thwart the opportunity, mobility, and wealth that can empower people to deal with global warming if it becomes a problem.

This piece originally appeared in The Daily Signal