Floy Lilley, J.D.
Murchison Chair of Free Enterprise
College of Engineering
University of Texas at Austin
Lilley's Daily Reports from Lyon - September 2000,
published in eco-logic Sep 11-15, 2000
Friday, September 15, 2000
William Luers, president of the United Nations Association of the United States of America, has authored a strong argument for uniting the U.N. with U.S. interests. "Choosing Engagement", appears in the September/October 2000 issue of Foreign Affairs. Luers calls for assigning policy and budgetary relations with the specialized agencies of the U.N. to their respective U.S. government departments rather than to the broader U.S. State Department. The State Department might view such moves as reductions in its own scope, but funding of U.N. activities could become more assured, since such funding would simply be within each agency annual budget and would not have to be held hostage by any public antagonism against the United Nations.
Luers submits two specific examples. One would be the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) taking on the responsibilities that the U.S. shoulders for the World Health Organization (WHO). The HHS annual budget would simply include the U.S. share of WHO's funding. A second "innovation would be to reassign major responsibility for U.S. support of the U.N. peace operations from the State Department to the Defense Department.... The Pentagon would be responsible for executing missions involving U.S. personnel and cover the U.S. share out of its budget."
Since the U.S. has no single department for the environment, where might the funding for the Kyoto Protocol go?
Isn't the natural selection the Department of Energy? Kyoto is all about energy rationing. Perhaps, being more accurate, the administration will change the name to the Department of No Energy.
Why would Americans feel favorable toward a global command center when the few examples coming out of global actors are even now so damaging to U.S. interests? The World Trade organization (WTO) has recently ruled illegal our $4 billion a year tax shelter for U.S. exporters (like Boeing Corporation). The European Union (EU) is expected to file a new suit next month with the WTO to retaliate against U.S. companies with trade sanctions - placing punitive tariffs on $4 billion in U.S. goods. Yet, only socialist economics embraces the mindsets that allow states to meddle like this in economic affairs in the first place. Those who thought the WTO was about free trade were fooled. Central planners never have all the knowledge. Their policies are always doomed to produce dismal unintended consequences. F. Hayek called that idea "The Fatal Conceit."
Developing countries are screaming "You know our needs. Start sending stuff!" The G-77 plus China are demanding that "$X billion U.S. dollars per year" be placed into a tech transfer fund. Both the Convention and the Protocol promise technology transfer from developed Annex I countries to developing countries, but the old saw "Be careful what you wish for" comes to mind. Buckminster Fuller once said, "Humans can not change humans' behavior; but, technology can."
Do you think oil prices will just keep rising now? The truth is that OPEC faces real competition from technology. An absolute oil glut could result from the reduction of consumption caused by technological advances and increased production from non-OPEC areas. Such a scenario would make futile the attempts by European nations to restrict energy use by their placement of ecological taxes upon petrol. The presence of abundant and affordable fossil fuels is not helpful to groups who wish to eliminate the use of fossil fuels.
Besides demanding technology transfers now, developing countries desire a new fund for adaptation. They are requiring that disasters be linked to climate change for the funds to be accessed. Yet, how do you make that link? How can "disaster" ever be linked to climate change? After all, climate change is not weather. Will the funds never be accessed?
Can the word technology be used by itself, or must groups now bend to the demand that the word always be three words? The demand? Use "environmentally sound technology" instead of "technology." Did you think that thought cops lived only on university campuses?
Any time spent trying to understand the French and their positions is a reminder that "bureaucracy" is a French word. In response to a direct question about projects not on the EU list, a French minister took five and a half minutes to say, "Projects on the list can start." Thanks for nothing. The infamous EU list does not include any coal project, any nuclear project, or any large hydro project.
Both the EU and the U.S. delegations have cautioned all of us that we should not expect too much from COP6 now. That is quite a change from their assurance that COP6 would lead to the soon thereafter ratification of the Kyoto Protocol. The uncertainties about CDM projects will continue for years. Hopefully, the U.S. will balk at engaging in legally binding Protocol activities, such as prompt start for CDM projects, before any legal ratification of that Protocol. The EU has said clearly, also, that early crediting of Joint Implementation (JI) projects "is not in the Protocol."
Two shifts appear to have taken place in these past two weeks. The U.S. and the EU are definitely working more closely together. Their language toward each other is softer. Even environmental groups are now worried that the EU is getting into a negotiating mode, particularly where caps and lists are concerned. Secondly, the head of the developing countries this session has been Nigeria. Nigeria is an oil producing country. As such, they are not unsympathetic to industry concerns.
Late into the night tonight business NGOs will be given three minutes to read a position paper. Few delegates and fewer NGOs will still be around. Most will have returned home or rushed off to further UN meetings.
Hopefully the position statement will reflect the need for free enterprise to make appropriate responses to environmental concerns.
Hopefully the position statement will not call for a merging of the U.S. into the U.N. agencies as William Luers envisions.