Global Governance: Down But Not Out

by Marlo Lewis on February 16, 2014

in Blog

John Podesta, President Obama’s top energy and climate advisor, has been quietly preparing tougher U.S. emission reduction commitments for the successor treaty to the Kyoto Protocol, slated for adoption in Paris in 2015.

Podesta is also an influential behind-the-scenes player in the “High Level Panel of Eminent Persons” advising UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon on “transformative” Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for the world. As you might expect, combating climate change is a major goal of the Eminent Persons’ SDG report.

What, you may wonder, is “sustainable development”? It is a rhetorical term devised by Western environmentalists to gloss over the basic incompatibility between their hostility carbon energy and developing countries’ imperative need to consume more carbon energy to lift their peoples out of poverty.

Perpetuating the obfuscation, SDG report boasts that, thanks partly to UN programs, there are half a billion fewer people today than in 2000 who fall below the international poverty line of $1.25 a day. But then the report laments that previous efforts “fell short” by not promoting “sustainable patterns of consumption and production,” and warns that poor people will “suffer first and worst from climate change.”

What the report conveniently overlooks is that most of the poverty eradication of the past three decades took place in China – a country whose economic development is overwhelmingly fossil-fueled. In China alone, 680 million people moved out of extreme poverty during 1981-2010. In the process, China became the world’s second-largest economy and largest CO2 emitter. Environmentalists did not know how to combine poverty eradication with coercive de-carbonization in the 1990s and 2000s, and they still don’t know.

Former French President Jacques Chirac called the Kyoto Protocol the “first step towards an authentic global governance.” Could Obama and Podesta revive the flagging fortunes of the UN-centered global governance agenda?

One risk is that developing countries will be lured by promises of foreign aid into joining the club of the carbon-constrained. That would be a tragic loss because government-to-government aid is a dependency trap that stifles rather than stimulates development

Another risk is that Obama, advised by Podesta, a long-time advocate of bypassing Congress, will commit the U.S. to international emission reduction targets through executive agreements that, unlike treaties, do not require Senate ratification.

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