Commentary Magazine


The Business of Copenhagen

The Washington Post gave away the game regarding Copenhagen. Sure, the science underlying the climate-change hysteria is facing new skepticism. And sure, Obama can’t really bind the U.S. to much of anything, given that cap-and-trade legislation is stalled at home. But there’s real work to do nevertheless: a massive transfer of wealth from rich to poor countries. The Post‘s editors explain:

Now, however, negotiations center on how to transfer hundreds of billions in cash and technology from rich countries to developing ones. Developing nations insist that they need the aid to adapt to the worst effects of climate change, to curb deforestation and to get off carbon-intensive development paths. Though the amounts that developing countries demand are impossibly high, the International Energy Agency estimates that non-OECD countries will, in fact, require $197 billion of additional investment annually for carbon reduction by 2020.

One marvels at the use of the word require. Yes, they’re making demands on wealthy nations and won’t be denied, it seems. The president loves this sort of thing. At the UN in September, Obama gave voice to the “doubters are heretics” mentality and fanned the climate-crisis flames:

The danger posed by climate change cannot be denied. Our responsibility to meet it must not be deferred. If we continue down our current course, every member of this Assembly will see irreversible changes within their borders. Our efforts to end conflicts will be eclipsed by wars over refugees and resources. Development will be devastated by drought and famine. Land that human beings have lived on for millennia will disappear. Future generations will look back and wonder why we refused to act; why we failed to pass on — why we failed to pass on an environment that was worthy of our inheritance. [emphasis added]

And when it comes to transferring the wealth, Obama has the patter down. Not only must we set an example by hobbling our own economies (“those wealthy nations that did so much damage to the environment in the 20th century must accept our obligation to lead”) but we also need “to extend a hand to those with less, while reforming international institutions to give more nations a greater voice.” (Because, I suppose, those multilateral institutions like the UN do such a bang-up job we need to give the nondemocratic, non-capitalist, anti-American and anti-Israel nations even more leverage.)

So let’s not delude ourselves. The Obami’s share-the-wealth vision and indulgence of the “international community” (and the latter’s sense of entitlement) are far too important to let a little scientific fraud and some constitutional niceties get in the way. There’s real business to be done at Copenhagen.