The people will reject the globalist ‘climate’ agenda

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Appeared in the Financial Post, December 21, 2023
The people will reject the globalist ‘climate’ agenda

It’s tempting to dismiss the outcome of COP28, the recent United Nations climate change conference in the United Arab Emirates, as mere verbiage, such as the “historic” UAE Consensus about transitioning away from fossil fuels. After all, this is the 28th such conference and the previous ones all pretty much came to nothing. On a chart showing the steady rise in global total CO2 emissions since 1950 you cannot spot when the 1997 Kyoto Protocol entered into force (2002), with its supposedly historic language binding developed countries to cap their CO2 emissions at five per cent below 1990 levels by 2012. Likewise, the 2015 Paris Agreement contained historic language binding countries to further deep emission reductions, yet the COP28 declaration begins (paragraph I.2) with an admission that the parties are not complying.

Nonetheless we should not overlook the real meaning of the UAE Consensus. COP agreements used to focus on one thing—targets for reducing greenhouse gases. The UAE Consensus is very different. Across its 196 paragraphs and 10 supplementary declarations it’s a manifesto of global central planning. Some 90,000 government functionaries aspire, in their own words, to oversee and micromanage agriculture, finance, energy, manufacturing, gender relations, health care, air conditioning, building design, and countless other economic and social decisions. It’s supposedly in the name of fighting climate change, but that’s just the pretext. Take it away and they’d appeal to something else.

After all, the climate change issue doesn’t necessitate these plans. Economists have been studying climate change for many decades and have never considered it grounds to phase out fossil fuels, micromanage society, etc. Mainstream scientific findings, coupled with mainstream economic analysis, prescribes moderate emission-pricing policies that rely much more on adaptation than mitigation.

The fact that the UAE Consensus is currently non-binding is beside the point. What matters is what the COP28 delegates said they want to achieve. Two facts stand out—the final consensus document announced plans that would cause enormous economic harm if implemented, and it was unanimously approved by everyone in the room.

The first point is best illustrated by the language around eliminating fossil fuels. Climate policy is supposed to be about optimally reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. As technology develops to decouple emissions from fuel use, there may eventually be no need to reduce the latter, but activist delegates insisted on the language anyway, making it an end in itself. Fossil fuels are essential for our economic standard of living, and 30 years of economic analysis has consistently shown that despite GHG emissions, phasing them out would do far more harm than good to humanity. Yet the Consensus statement ignored that, even while claiming to be guided by “the science.”

The second point refers to the fact that representatives of governments worldwide endorsed policies that will, if implemented, do extraordinary harm to their own people. Where governments have made even small attempts to take these radical steps, the public has revolted. This calls into question whom the COP28 delegates “represent.” Other than a few elected officials, we didn’t vote for any of them. And even if some heads of state go to a COP meeting intending to oppose the overall agenda, they would not be able to stop it and would be browbeaten into signing the final package.

The UAE Consensus is the latest signal that the real fault line in contemporary society is not right versus left, it’s the people versus (for lack of a better word) the globalists. A decade ago this term was only heard on the conspiracy fringe but has since migrated towards the mainstream as the most apt descriptor of an enormous and influential transnational permanent bureaucracy, which aspires to run everything, even to the public’s detriment, while insulating themselves from democratic limits.

A hallmark of globalists is the way they exempt themselves from rules they want to impose on everyone else. COP28 and Davos meetings perfectly illustrate this—thousands of delegates flying in, many on private jets, to be wined and dined while telling everyone else to learn to do without.

In the cases of both COVID-19 and climate change, the same elite has proven itself to be adept, not at using science to support good decision-making, but at invoking “the science” as a talisman to justify everything they do including censoring public debate. Complex and uncertain matters get reduced to dogmatic slogans by technocrats who ensure political leaders are force fed a narrow one-sided information stream. Experts outside the process are accorded standing based solely on their obeisance to the preferred narrative, not their knowledge or qualifications. Critics are attacked as purveyors of “misinformation” and “disinformation,” and so the existence of opposition to government plans becomes proof of the need to suppress free speech.

But eventually the people get the last word. I am struck, in this context, that despite nonstop fearmongering about an alleged climate crisis, the public tolerates climate policy only insofar as it doesn’t cost anything.

The climate movement might think that by embedding itself in the globalist elite it can accelerate policy adoption without needing to win elections. I think the opposite is happening. The globalists have coopted the climate issue to sell a grotesque central planning agenda that the public has repeatedly rejected. If the UAE Consensus is the future of climate policy, its failure is guaranteed.