Bruce Thornton is a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center.
The Biden administration is attending the UN’s 26th “Conference of Parties,” the annual summit on what used to be called “Global Warming,” but is now dubbed “Climate Change.” Thirty thousand government officials, including heads of state posing for photo-ops, and government clerks enjoying taxpayer funded junkets, along with noisy activists, NGOs, and “green energy” corporate grifters hunting for more subsidies––all are spewing tons of CO2 into the atmosphere to attend the summit, leaving behind a King Kong-sized carbon footprint.
As with the other COP meetings, however, there will be lots of moral preening, apocalyptic rhetoric, and grand promises, but little of practical utility will be accomplished.
American progressives love such climate pow-wows, which indulge their various ideological shibboleths and demonstrate their superior morality and dedication to “science.” Leftist “Greens,” or “watermelons”––Green on the outside, Red on the inside–– find environmentalism in general a convenient weapon for discrediting free-market capitalism and especially the U.S. for daring to kick a communist superpower into the dustbin of history. Democrats, who like socialists “never let a good crisis go to waste,” find the lurid apocalyptic fantasies of “global warming” a good pretext for redistributing more taxpayer money to political clients. Thus the corporate clean-energy rackets and race-baiters will get money from programs like those in the proposed $550 billion “climate reform” legislation for researching and mitigating the “disparate impact” of climate change on “communities of color.”
And of course, Dems find anthropogenic, catastrophic global warming (ACGW) an opportunity for smearing their political enemies as “deniers,” “kooks,” and disbelievers in science who “cling to guns and religion” and, don’t forget, are “racists” and “xenophobes” to boot. Then there’s the hated Donald Trump, who pulled out of the Paris Accords that grew out of a previous COP agreement. This for the Dems was a heinous act of blasphemy that besmirched Barack Obama’s globalist triumph in signing the agreement, and is yet another sign of their enemies’ stubborn resistance to the global ruling class’s “rules-based international order.”
Speaking of Obama, Steven Groves of the Heritage Foundation recalled in an interview that at the 2009 COP Obama “pledged that the world’s wealthiest nations would give $100 billion per year by 2020 to the world’s poorest counties to help them fight climate change.” Groves continued, ‘“Here we are in 2021, [and] there has never been $100 billion put together, much less $100 billion per year,’” adding that there is ‘“not $100 billion in any green climate fund, nor any real prospect of there being $100 billion.’” And even if there were such a fund, what nation would hold dead-beats accountable when they refused to contribute?
Worse, given the sorry track-record of Western nations’ trillions of dollars in foreign aid of various sorts, what do we think would be the fate of those donations? We know where they would end up: in the Swiss bank accounts of corrupt government officials, and the pockets of various “clean energy” hustlers. And even if we could ensure the money would be honestly spent, it’s lunatic to blow it on windmills, solar panels, and electric cars in developing or poor nations that need cheap energy. Building more electrical plants, whether fueled by coal or natural gas, would be a greater boon for millions of people who lack electricity, and rely on wood, charcoal, or dung for fuel, which puts them at risk for lung and eye diseases. Once they have enough reliable energy to make their economies more productive and increase wealth, then they could afford the moral preening or environmental fantasies of us rich Westerners.
Next, any agreements or protocols agreed to at the summit, even if they were implemented, would not reduce enough the warming allegedly driving us to catastrophe. Whatever the damage to our economies that the rich West may agree to, countries like China––which emits twice as much greenhouse gases as the U.S, and more than the whole developed nations combined––and India, the third largest emitter, will not comply no matter what they say for the cameras at photo-ops. They’re not about to destroy their economies for the sake of a hundred-year-old hypothesis and a bunch of contradictory computer models. That sort of delusional behavior is a luxury of the spoiled rich.
So what’s this all about? First, maintaining the illusion that the so-called “rules-based international order” is necessary for creating global peace, prosperity, and justice. Big showy conferences, with snaps of world leaders grinning and shaking hands, and then issuing portentous statements about how they are working to save the world from extinction, support that illusion. But when it comes to action, the Green-Cult Sibyl Greta Thunberg is right: “Build back better. Blah, blah, blah. Green economy. Blah, blah, blah. Net-zero by 2050. Blah, blah, blah,” she said in September. The true believer can smell a Pharisee a mile away.
The fact is, the assumptions behind the “new world order,” as George H.W. Bush called it, are just as dubious as they were in 1923, when the Secretary-General of the League of Nations, Sir Eric Drummond, used that same phrase to describe “the public law of the new world order established by the League.” The nations back then, and the 195 nations today, do not have a “harmony of interests” that unites them in their goals and aspirations. Their national identities are shaped by their diverse customs, faiths, mores, traditions cultures, languages, and histories. This means that their national interests, no matter how many ad hoc or transient, unenforceable agreements or treaties they sign, will often be zero-sum and conflict with those of other nations.
And for most of the world, those interests include developing their economies whether to benefit the people or the ruling regime, which requires the cheap energy provided by fossil fuels. Of course, they play along with the Western dominated “new world order,” and they participate in its institutions like the UN or the COP, for these offer opportunities to serve their national interests no matter how inimical to the professed principles upon which those institutions have been founded––and, in the case of the COP, to provide opportunities for cadging bribes from the West.
Indeed, the whole ACGW industry was initially promoted in the Nineties by developing nations that saw an opportunity to exploit the Western cognitive elite’s fashionable guilt over colonialism, imperialism, and the “racism” that underlay those universal human behaviors. Since the West created industrialism and the energy technologies that powered it, why shouldn’t the rest of the world be compensated for the subsequent costs? Why should poorer developing nations pay for cleaning up the West’s mess?
Finally, the government officials and bureaucrats attending these climate “summits” and signing various empty “accords” serve mainly their public relations needs, providing opportunities for the rich nations to display their superior morality and concern for the “planet.” And I think many of them know it. If, say, the Biden administration was sincere about reducing emissions, why, as Steven Groves points out, “In addition to the massive price tag for a presidential visit to a conference center on foreign soil, Biden is sending more than a dozen Cabinet members and senior administration officials to Glasgow,” and “The carbon footprint of Biden’s grand delegation to Glasgow has yet to be disclosed”?
But the dead giveaway of Western political hypocrisy is the rejection of a proven renewable, clean energy source––nuclear power. Devoting more funds to developing Advanced Small Modular Reactors, which are more versatile and safe then existing behemoths, makes more sense than promoting more wind turbines and solar panels, and spending billions to bribe consumers to buy electric cars, the manufacturing of which results in more emissions than the car will reduce in its lifetime. Or how about transitioning to much-cleaner natural gas, something that this country has a lot of, and that doesn’t overload the electrical grid, as electric cars would if, as California Governor Gavin Newsom has ordered, all gas-powered vehicles have to be replaced with electric cars? But taking those steps would alienate the “clean energy” grifters and lobbyists waxing fat on taxpayer money.
The government bureaucrats congregating in Glasgow know all this. They know that “net zero emissions” by 2050, the climateers’ Holy Grail, isn’t going to happen, any more than electric vehicles will replace gas-powered ones. They know paying for these pie-in-the-sky climate policies will alienate their voting citizens. Particularly in this country, Global Warming is way down on the voters’ list of concerns that need attention and funds. Politicians know they can’t sell the people on the idea of spending trillions of dollars on fantasies. But they continue to attend summits and virtue-signal to the world because it gratifies their fellow elites in the EU. They want to be part of the globalist “club” to which French President Macron welcomed back Biden after the election.
For the global elite, this means an America that sacrifices its own interests to those of other nations, even if Americans suffer higher gas prices and more expensive regulations. But pleasing other nations doesn’t fit the Constitution’s job description for the Chief Executive.