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Morning Bell: The Hugo Chavez Case for Cap and Trade

Posted By Conn Carroll On December 18, 2009 @ 9:29 am In Ongoing Priorities | Comments Disabled

This morning while President Barack Obama addressed the United Nations Climate Change Conference, his allies were busy trying to shield him [1] of the political fallout from the conference’s apparent failure to produce anything substantial. Throughout the conference, one of the biggest obstacles to an agreement was the insistence of developing nations that rich countries sign a binding treaty that included a large transfer of wealth [2] to the developing world. If there were any doubts that wealth distribution was at the heart of climate cap-and-trade agreements, President of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela Hugo Chavez put them to rest when he delivered his anti-capitalist diatribe that drew thunderous applause from the convention’s delegates Wednesday:

One could say, Mr. President, that a ghost is haunting Copenhagen, to paraphrase Karl Marx, the great Karl Marx, a ghost is haunting the streets of Copenhagen, and I think that ghost walks silently through this room, walking around among us, through the halls, out below, it rises, this ghost is a terrible ghost almost nobody wants to mention it: Capitalism is the ghost, almost nobody wants to mention it. It’s capitalism, the people roar, out there, hear them.

Socialism, the other ghost Karl Marx spoke about, which walks here too, rather it is like a counter-ghost. Socialism, this is the direction, this is the path to save the planet, I don’t have the least doubt.

And yesterday’s Wall Street Journal [3] reported on a case study in how international cap and trade facilitates just the type of wealth distribution Chavez and his allies are fighting for:

The Kyoto Protocol of 1997 required signatories to reduce their carbon emissions, and the European Union in 2005 launched its own cap-and-trade system. The program sets a limit on carbon emissions, and companies are issued free carbon allowances that they can buy or sell based on their emissions needs. … Fast forward to this month’s news that Corus, Europe’s second-largest steel producer, is shuttering a giant U.K. steelmaking plant at Redcar, cutting 1,700 jobs. … By closing Redcar’s annual capacity of three million tons of steel, Corus will produce six million fewer tons of CO2. That means more carbon allowances, which could translate into about $300 million a year if credits hit $50. Corus is essentially being paid to lay off British workers.

As part of Kyoto, the United Nations created the Clean Development Mechanism to encourage Western companies to invest in developing-world factories. Participants are financially rewarded based on the amount of carbon they “save” with more efficient plants. … Were Corus to move production to a “clean” Indian factory, it could receive hundreds of millions of dollars annually from the Clean Development Fund. The kicker is that none of this results in fewer carbon emissions. A Corus plant in India might be more efficient by Indian standards, but it will be no more efficient than Redcar.

We should add that all of this is precisely what Kyoto envisioned. … Cap and trade is a scheme that would impose heavy carbon taxes and allowances on U.S. industries, which would then have an incentive to move overseas themselves, or to sell those allowances to overseas companies that could use them to become more competitive against U.S. companies. Like the 1,700 Brits at Redcar, American workers would be the big losers.

Yesterday, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton pledged [4] that the United States would help mobilize $100 billion a year in climate change aid for developing nations. A senior Obama administration aid tells The Washington Post [4] that 20% – 30% of this fund is expected to come from the United States with one of the funding sources being revenues from a cap-and-trade energy tax scheme. Also in the Post today, a new poll [5] shows that 57% of Americans oppose any treaty that would force the United States and other industrialized countries to pay developing countries $10 billion a year to reduce greenhouse gasses.

Americans do not like wealth distribution within their own nation. It should be no surprise that they look even less kindly on President Barack Obama’s efforts to redistribute our jobs and wealth overseas, too.

Quick Hits:

  • Despite still promising passage of Obamacare by Christmas, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) still does not have actual legislative text for the bill [6], let alone a Congressional Budget Office score of the bill.
  • Citing taxpayer funding for abortion, Medicaid expansion bankrupting state budgets, and tax increases on all Americans, Sen. Ben Nelson (D-NE) told a Nebraska radio station [7] he would vote with conservatives to filibuster Obamacare.
  • Despite a 10% unemployment rate, the spending bills passed by Congress this week increase federal worker pay by 2% [8], raising average federal worker pay to a little over $71,000 while private-sector workers earn only $50,028 on average.
  • According to Rasmussen Reports [9], 66% of U.S. voters prefer a smaller government with fewer services and lower taxes over a more active government with more services and higher taxes.
  • While the Obama administration awarded $2 billion to an Al Gore connected plug-in hybrid car company [10], an Energy Department-funded analysis by the National Research Council shows [11] that plug-in electric hybrid vehicles probably will not produce significant savings in either greenhouse gas emissions or fuel consumption for at least another two decades — even with massive government subsidies.

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URL to article: http://blog.heritage.org/2009/12/18/morning-bell-the-hugo-chavez-case-for-cap-and-trade/

URLs in this post:

[1] busy trying to shield him: http://www.politico.com/news/stories/1209/30766.html

[2] large transfer of wealth: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/15/science/earth/15climate.html?_r=1&ref=todayspaper

[3] Wall Street Journal: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704398304574598173402205330.html

[4] pledged: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/12/17/AR2009121700165.html

[5] a new poll: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/12/18/AR2009121800002.html

[6] still does not have actual legislative text for the bill: http://www.politico.com/news/stories/1209/30762.html

[7] told a Nebraska radio station: http://www.weeklystandard.com/weblogs/TWSFP/2009/12/nelson_on_healthcare_deadline_1.asp

[8] increase federal worker pay by 2%: http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/politics/Federal-salaries-targeted-as-private-sector-pay-stagnates-8665856-79571487.html

[9] Rasmussen Reports: http://www.rasmussenreports.com/public_content/politics/mood_of_america/america_s_best_days

[10] Al Gore connected plug-in hybrid car company: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB125383160812639013.html

[11] National Research Council shows: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/12/17/AR2009121704152.html

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