Published April 20, 2012
The upcoming United Nations environmental conference on sustainable development will consider a breathtaking array of carbon taxes, transfers of trillions of dollars from wealthy countries to poor ones, and new spending programs to guarantee that populations around the world are protected from the effects of the very programs the world organization wants to implement, according to stunning U.N. documents examined by Fox News.
The main goal of the much-touted, Rio + 20 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, scheduled to be held in Brazil from June 20-23, and which Obama Administration officials have supported, is to make dramatic and enormously expensive changes in the way that the world does nearly everything—or, as one of the documents puts it, "a fundamental shift in the way we think and act."
Among the proposals on how the “challenges can and must be addressed,” according to U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon:
--More than $2.1 trillion a year in wealth transfers from rich countries to poorer ones, in the name of fostering “green infrastructure, ” “climate adaptation” and other “green economy” measures.
--New carbon taxes for industrialized countries that could cost about $250 billion a year, or 0.6 percent of Gross Domestic Product, by 2020. Other environmental taxes are mentioned, but not specified.
--Further unspecified price hikes that extend beyond fossil fuels to anything derived from agriculture, fisheries, forestry, or other kinds of land and water use, all of which would be radically reorganized. These cost changes would “contribute to a more level playing field between established, 'brown' technologies and newer, greener ones."
-- Major global social spending programs, including a "social protection floor" and "social safety nets" for the world's most vulnerable social groups for reasons of “equity.”
--Even more social benefits for those displaced by the green economy revolution—including those put out of work in undesirable fossil fuel industries. The benefits, called “investments,” would include “access to nutritious food, health services, education, training and retraining, and unemployment benefits."
--A guarantee that if those sweeping benefits weren’t enough, more would be granted. As one of the U.N. documents puts it: “Any adverse effects of changes in prices of goods and services vital to the welfare of vulnerable groups must be compensated for and new livelihood opportunities provided."
That huge catalogue of taxes and spending is described optimistically as “targeted investments in human and social capital on top of investments in natural capital and green physical capital,” and is accompanied by the claim that it will all, in the long run, more than pay for itself.
But the whopping green “investment” list barely scratches the surface of the mammoth exercise in global social engineering that is envisaged in the U.N. documents, prepared by the Geneva-based United Nations Environmental Management Group (UNEMG), a consortium of 36 U.N. agencies, development banks and environmental bureaucracies, in advance of the Rio session.
An earlier version of the report was presented at a closed door session of the U.N.'s top bureaucrats during a Long Island retreat last October, where Rio was discussed as a "unique opportunity" to drive an expanding U.N. agenda for years ahead.
Under the ungainly title of Working Towards a Balanced and Inclusive Green Economy, A United Nations System-Wide Perspective, the final version of the 204-page report is intended to “contribute” to preparations for the Rio + 20 summit, where one of the two themes is “the green economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication. ” (The other theme is “the institutional framework for sustainable development” –sometimes known as global environmental governance.)
But in fact, it also lays out new roles for private enterprise, national governments, and a bevy of socialist-style worker, trade and citizens’ organizations in creating a sweeping international social reorganization, all closely monitored by regulators and governments to maintain environmental “sustainability” and “human equity.”
“Transforming the global economy will require action locally (e.g., through land use planning), at the national level (e.g., through energy-use regulations) and at the international level (e.g., through technology diffusion),” the document says. It involves “profound changes in economic systems, in resource efficiency, in the composition of global demand, in production and consumption patterns and a major transformation in public policy-making.” It will also require “a serious rethinking of lifestyles in developed countries.”
As the report puts it, even though “the bulk of green investments will come from the private sector," the "role of the public sector... is indispensable for influencing the flow of private financing." It adds that the green economy model “recognizes the value of markets, but is not tied to markets as the sole or best solution to all problems.”
Among other countries, the report particularly lauds China as “a good example of combining investments and public policy incentives to encourage major advances in the development of cleaner technologies.”
Along those lines, it says, national governments need to reorganize themselves to " collectively design fiscal and tax policies as well as policies on how to use the newly generated revenue" from their levies. There, "U.N. entities can help governments and others to find the most appropriate ways of phasing out harmful subsidies while combining that with the introduction of new incentive schemes to encourage positive steps forward."
U.N. organizations can also “encourage the ratification of relevant international agreements, assist the Parties to implement and comply with related obligations...and build capacity, including that of legislators at national and sub-national levels to prepare and ensure compliance with regulations and standards."
The report declares that “scaled-up and accelerated international cooperation" is required, with new coordination at "the international, sub-regional, and regional levels." Stronger regulation is needed, and “to avoid the proliferation of national regulations and standards, the use of relevant international standards is essential” -- an area where the U.N. can be very helpful, the report indicates.
The U.N. is also ready to supply new kinds of statistics to bolster and measure the changes that the organization foresees—including indicators that do away with old notions of economic growth and progress and replace them with new statistics. One example: “the U.N. System of Environmental-Economic Accounting (SEEA), which will become an internationally agreed statistical framework in 2012."
These changes, the authors reassure readers, will only be done in line with the “domestic development agendas” of the countries involved.
“A green economy is not a one-size-fits-all path towards sustainable development,” an executive summary of the report declares. Instead it is a “dynamic policy toolbox” for local decision-makers, who can decide to use it optionally.
But even so, the tools are intended for only one final aim. And they have the full endorsement of U.N. Secretary General Ban, who declares in a forward to the document that “only such integrated approach will lay lasting foundations for peace and sustainable development," and calls the upcoming Rio conclave a "generational opportunity" to act.
George Russell is executive editor of Fox News and can be found on Twitter @GeorgeRussell