The United Nation’s Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), a preliminary to a “New Universal Climate Agreement,” took place December 1-14, 2014, in Lima, Peru. The purpose of the conference was to “elaborat[e] the elements of the new agreement, scheduled to be agreed [to] in Paris in late 2015,” and take effect “post 2020,” according to the UNFCCC website.
Special interests were out in force at the conference. One was the Friends of the Earth, self-described as “a global network representing more than two million activists in 75 different countries.”
As Reason.com’s Ronald Bailey reported recently from Peru:
"We are people who want to tell the truth about the climate crisis, and the truth is that we are on track to a climate disaster," asserted Alex Rafalowicz at a Friends of the Earth (FOE) press conference . . . . So how does FOE think the world gets off the track? By demanding that rich countries fork over their "climate fair shares." What's fair? It's only fair that by 2030 the rich countries cut their carbon dioxide emissions around 80 percent and pay poor countries more than $1 trillion annually to cut theirs.
Under FOE’s scheme, Bailey reports, “By 2030, the U.S. would be required to cut its emissions by 82 percent below the 2013 levels and supply $810 billion annually in climate debt payments.”
This is the plan of Friends of the Earth. As its name indicates, FOE’s standard of value is not man, but environmental non-impact; preserving Earth in its natural state. It aims to achieve “a more healthy and just world . . . by focusing on the economic drivers that are encouraging environmental degradation.” Healthy and just—for whom? “We fight for what’s needed over the longer term for all creatures on our planet, not for what is easy or popular in the short term.” This means that people are no more important than mosquitoes, and must sacrifice their electricity and gasoline, their jobs and comfort, their “environmental degradation”—for every other two-bit species on Earth.
Since man survives and thrives by altering and improving the natural environment to human benefit, it’s safe to say that the good of man is not FOE’s concern. To the likes of FOE, the alteration of nature, as such, is a catastrophe.
But from a value standard of what’s good for man, there is no fossil fuel “climate catastrophe.” There is an environmental boon. As Alex Epstein shows in his book The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels, by every measure of human well-being, from cleaner water to more and better food to longer and healthier lives to protection from weather extremes to greater overall prosperity, fossil fuel energy has improved the human condition—including the human environment—and continues to do so.
The correlation between prosperity and carbon dioxide emissions is clear. Yet, FOE wants to cap worldwide carbon emissions through a massive global regulatory/tax scheme by forcing massive cuts on developed nations, and restricting the progress toward a better life for less developed nations.
But here’s the question: Once “rich” countries, including the U.S.A., have been reduced to third world poverty—by cutting carbon emissions by 80%—where will the $1 trillion annual handout to the thieving poor countries come from? No matter. Justice is not FOE’s ultimate goal. Poverty is.
Americans should outright reject the anti-industrial agenda of Friends of the Earth and its primitive ilk. Rather than pay “climate debt” penance in the form of trillion dollar handouts to third world countries, we should encourage them to ramp up their own burning of fossil fuels, liberate their economies, and generate their own prosperity.
Actually, this is already happening. As AP reports, “Currently, most CO2 emissions are coming from developing countries as they grow their economies and lift millions of people out of poverty.” And, as AP reports, these developing countries aren’t about let UNFCCC or anyone else stop their progress.
As for FOE, it condemned the UNFCCC conference outcome, which “desperately lack[ed] in ambition, leadership, justice and solidarity for the people worst hit by the climate crisis.” FOE’s disappointment is great news for the people of poorer countries, whose only crisis was the lack of energy and industrial development that left them vulnerable to climate dangers; a crisis their growing fossil fuel-powered prosperity is helping to end.
Truth is, prosperity and protection from climate dangers goes hand-in-hand with large scale, reliable energy production, and today—and for the foreseeable future—fossil fuels are far and away the best source of that energy. In some distant future, something better may replace fossil fuels. But for now, fossil fuels are the only game in town, from the standpoint of human well-being as the value standard. It would be insane and cruel beyond words to “stop fossil fuels,” as FOE demands.
So, be proud of your carbon emission prosperity, America, and protect it. You earned it, and your lives depend on it.
The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels—Alex Epstein (Chapter 1, The Secret History of Fossil Fuels, available free.)
Friends of the Earth Anti-American Response to Secretary of State John Kerry’s Lima Speech