Out of Control Policy Blog

Peeking Behind Kyoto's Curtain

Even ardent supporters acknowledge that the Kyoto Protocol will barely make a dent in global emissions trends, and at a tremendous economic cost (already $13 billion since its February inception, according to JunkScience.com's Kyoto Count).

So Tech Central Station's Carlo Stagnaro naturally wonders, "Why Kyoto?" And he finds that you have to look past the environmental rhetoric to find the real motivations lurking under the surface:

    "In fact, there is an inherent imperialist temptation in the climate treaty. Paul Driessen's book Eco-Imperialism largely deals with the implications of Kyoto. He shows that, if you put aside the questionable theories underlying the climate treaty, the single most important cause of pollution is poverty. Thus, if you sincerely aim to reducing the former, you have to defeat the latter - and only free market institutions provide an efficient way to do that. However, most international organizations, including the EU and the UN, stick with Kyoto. So do some corporations.

    Why? On the one hand, climate policies are redistributionist policies, so the recipients of redistributed money (for example, the renewables industry) have an incentive to support them. Other industries are lobbying their governments to be protected from foreign competition - and environmental regulations work as non-monetary trade barriers, since they result in the exclusion of some potential competitors (that are not able to meet the requested standards) and cause higher costs - thus less competitiveness - for others. Finally, as Driessen puts it, "The EU's self-interest is highly visible in its insistence that Ireland, the United States, Eastern Europe and other nations adopt a system of 'global tax equity' or 'tax harmonization.' This is bureaucratic code for a compelling the United States to raise its taxes to EU levels, to prevent 'disruption' and eliminate 'unfair and harmful tax competition'." In other words, most EU governments are willing to make economic life more difficult in order to maximize their power over society.

    If this is true, one has to admit there is nothing noble in promoting climate policies. Nor could their outcome be desirable. Inefficient industries and politicians in power would be winners, but everyone else loses."

Leonard Gilroy is Director of Government Reform

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