cop21-parisThe Paris Agreement is not just another climate agreement.  It is an assault on the virtues of American-style laissez-faire capitalism.  The main takeaway for those of us concerned with freedom is that this is arguably the largest and most invasive piece of global government legislation to come out of the United Nations.  And it will do nothing but open a new tax-and-spend door for our lawmakers and foreign government bodies to continue exploiting us with taxation, regulation, wealth redistribution, and spending in the name of spurring the growth of green energy.  It is, of course, championed as a wonderful step forward for climate change proponents.  And Executive Director of 350.org, an anti-fossil fuel group, announced enthusiastically, and quite naively at that, that the agreement, “marks the end of the era of fossil fuels. There is no way to meet the targets laid out in this agreement without keeping coal, oil and gas in the ground. The text should send a clear signal to fossil fuel investors: divest now.”

Two things I would take from 350.org is that first, if we have to keep coal, oil, and natural gas in the ground just to meet targets set by international bureaucrats, I would say that, barring my complete disregard for climate change as a legitimate problem, there is little chance even advanced countries, let alone developing countries, will ever meet such targets.  Second, if said text sends a message to investors to “divest now,” the Paris Agreement marks another step toward legislating resource allocation according to political edict rather than market processes.  Secretary of State John Kerry stated, “There are jobs to be created, money to be made…[It] sends a very powerful message to the global marketplace.”  Indeed it does, but this is not a positive as our liberal and weak-minded conservatives would have us believe.  Such talk does not mean that markets will be allowed to act on their own.  Rather, we now have a new global initiative to redirect resources away from crucial sectors like technology and medicine.  What makes these sectors crucial is the same as what makes them the most open to inflows of capital, namely that they produce the most value for us as human beings.  They raise our standard of living.

Hidden beneath this environmental postulation is a global initiative to eliminate poverty and inequality.   Disguising agendas and packaging them together has become a standard political tool for our leaders to pass undesirable legislation unbeknownst to millions of taxpayers.  If one looks at the agreement itself, it clearly states that spending on climate change cannot be separate from eradicating poverty.

Acknowledging that climate change is a common concern of humankind, Parties should, when taking action to address climate change, respect, promote and consider their respective obligations on human rights, the right to health, the rights of indigenous peoples, local communities, migrants, children, persons with disabilities and people in vulnerable situations and the right to development, as well as gender equality, empowerment of women and intergenerational equity…

imagesAttached to bettering the climate then is the growth of the welfare state.  Reiterating what our liberal stooges in Washington keep trying to cram down our throats is that climate change cannot be done without an equal concern for “human rights, the right to health, migrants, children, persons with disabilities,” or people having, in general, a rough time.  Here we have a package deal.  One cannot acknowledge or promote climate change unless they first embrace equally the evils of inequality and poverty. Nicholas Stern, Chair of the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment and ESRC Centre for Climate Change Economics and Policy at the London School of Economics and Political Science, and President of the British Academy, stated the usual empty optimism.  “The Paris Agreement is a turning point in the world’s fight against unmanaged climate change.” He also grouped poverty alongside carbon emissions as the two preeminent concerns for our generation.  Stern:

And it recognises that that rich countries are expected to mobilise more financial support to help poor countries make the transition to a low-carbon economy and become more climate-resilient. Increased investments will be needed, particularly in infrastructure, and the multilateral financial institutions, such as the World Bank and the regional development banks, must play a leading role in scaling up finance and bringing down the costs of capital.

Moreover, Ronald Bailey from Reason points out that the agreement requires “developed country Parties [to] provide financial resources to assist developing country Parties with respect to both mitigation and adaptation.”  “Adaptation”?  That could mean anything, anything that our leaders deem necessary for less developed countries, with less capital accumulation, to strive toward building an industrialized economy without the use of fossil fuels.  Does this sound ridiculous enough yet?

In addition, I’m not really sure how we can bring down the cost of capital anymore when we’ve been sitting at 0%-0.25% federal funds rate since December of 2008.  And with the Federal Reserve ready to raise rates for the first time in nearly a decade, the only way from here is to raise taxes on wealthy individuals, successful corporations, and wealthy nations.  Add the already-dire situation of our crumbling entitlement system and the general market instability we’ve seen since 2008 and historians might just label the Paris Agreement as the straw that broke the camel’s back.

What we have here is the fight against poverty and inequality coming from a new direction, disguised beneath the veil of climate change.

Ari Armstrong, a former associate editor at The Objective Standard who is exploring alternative ways to absorb climate change costs into markets without government, states that the agreement is an embrace of  the command-and-control approach to climate change.  The result:

To the extent the United States pursues the agreement, we can expect the federal government to subsidize hopelessly infeasible forms of energy; to confiscate wealth from U.S. citizens to subsidize corrupt foreign governments; and to throttle producers and consumers of fossil fuels through bureaucratically imposed regulations. The result is that government will slow economic growth relative to what it could and should be, and we will be poorer for it.