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SPREAD THE WEALTH AROUND
November 29, 2010

Posted by David Lungren David_Lungren@epw.senate.gov

EPW POLICY BEAT: ‘SPREAD THE WEALTH AROUND'

If you've ever wondered why the international community convenes climate meetings in far-flung locales (Cancun, or perhaps Bali), then look no further than Otto Edenhofer, a German economist and an official with the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).  Such grand confabs are not, as one would suppose, about climate change, its causes, or actions to avert and adapt to it. 

In fact, as Edenhofer sees it, such things are irrelevant, as the climate conference is "not a climate conference, but one of the largest economic conferences since the Second World War."  Indeed.

What does he mean?  In an interview with German media outlet Neue Zurcher Zeitung, Edenhofer said that developed countries, i.e. the United States, have "expropriated the atmosphere of the world community."  "But one must say clearly," he asserted, "that we redistribute de facto the world's wealth by climate policy."  In other words, as one debunked economist might have put it, the expropriators should be expropriated.

If that doesn't put it bluntly enough, Edenhofer goes on to say: "One has to free oneself from the illusion that international climate policy is environmental policy.  This has almost nothing to do with environmental policy anymore, with problems such as deforestation or the ozone hole."  [Emphasis ours.]

It apparently has a lot to do with the American taxpayer, who would be part of the expropriated class.  The big winner, in Edenhofer's view, would be Africa, "and huge amounts of money will flow there." 

Edenhofer's remarks are of a piece with former French President Jacques Chirac, who said in 2000 that Kyoto Protocol was the "first component of an authentic global governance." And Margot Wallstrom, the European Union's former Environment Commissioner, who said in 2001 that Kyoto is about "trying to create a level playing field for big businesses throughout the world."  Which is to say that Cancun is about something other than saving the planet from the ravages of humanity. 

Rather, it is about using climate change as a stalking horse for more regulation and control of the private economy, and about redistributing wealth from American taxpayers to, among others, China and India.  For Cancun is based on the principle that, as one Presidential candidate famously put it, when "you spread the wealth around, it's good for everybody." 

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