Economic Redistribution Ahead

, Bethany Stotts, Leave a comment

The late Sam Francis defined bipartisanship as Evil and Stupid parties getting together to do something that is both evil and stupid. Efforts by both college administrators and the U. S. Commander in Chief to “fight global warming” seem to fall in this category.

With President George Bush targeting global climate change as a key policy issue in his final State of the Union Address, initiatives to combat global warming will likely soon be propelled to the front of the legislative checklist. President Bush called for a “an international agreement that has the potential to slow, stop, and eventually reverse the growth of greenhouse gases” and emphasized the role that new technologies would play in helping both industrialized and developing countries such as China boost their energy efficiency. “The United States is committed to strengthening our energy security and confronting global climate change. And the best way to meet these goals is for America to continue leading the way toward the development of cleaner and more energy-efficient technology,” said President Bush.

However, groups such as the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) view such technology-promoting initiatives quite differently. OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría told the United Nations Bali Climate Conference this December that while “cutting emissions and fostering low-carbon activities will require investments in research and development of new technologies,” the best solution to combat global warming is to raise taxes.

“A number of countries have focused their climate change policies on subsidizing the ‘good’ solutions rather than on taxing the ‘bad’ ones. This is an inefficient choice, because this tends to increase the costs of reducing [greenhouse gas] emissions,” Gurría argued. He added that “Subsidizing good behavior also risks locking in technologies that may later be considered inefficient.” Conversely, “taxing bad behavior…provides a consistent incentive for increased efficiency and innovation,” argued the Secretary-General.

The ongoing concern that climate change initiatives mask a concerted attempt to initiate global economic redistribution was bolstered by the Bali Conference. The U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works quoted Emma Brindal, a “climate justice campaigner” for Friends of the Earth, as stating that “A climate change response must have at its heart a redistribution of wealth and resources.”

OECD Secretary-General Gurría also confirmed these fears by encouraging developed OECD countries to engage in an “emission trading permit system” (read, cap-and-trade) in which industrialized countries would purchase carbon credits from under-developed nations. Although the system would effectively subsidize countries for not producing goods as well as reward energy efficiency, Gurría argues that “those countries who [sic] provoked climate change have a greater capacity to pay than those who joined the group of large emitters more recently.” In other words, America and other industrialized nations have the responsibility to pay for a higher proportion of climate change costs because they provoked the crisis in the first place. “By agreeing [to] more ambitious caps, in the context of a global trading system, developed countries could carry a relatively greater financial responsibility than developing countries,” said Gurría.

The OECD also lobbies for a “harmonized global carbon tax” which the organization argues would decrease the gross domestic product (GDP) of OECD member-nations by “only .2% in 2030 and 1.1% in 2050.” “But in Brazil, Russia, India and China,” a December press release states, “GDP would decline five times as much—1.4% of GDP in 2030 and 5.5% in 2050.” Gurría asserts that the best solution is for industrialized nations to engage in “socially responsible” and “fair” burden-sharing environmental policies.

The suggested global carbon tax would be instituted on an ever-increasing scale, which Gurría said would rise from .5 U.S. cents per liter of gasoline in 2010 to 1.5 cents in 2020 increasing to 12 cents in 2030 and, finally, 37 cents in 2050. “Doing nothing is not only not an option. It is inexcusable,” declared Gurría, “And stalling now will only increase the challenge in the future.”

Bethany Stotts is a Staff Writer at Accuracy in Academia.