Feeding the Green Money Tree

Feeding the Green Money Tree

July 29, 1999
Originally published in The Washington Times

The Clinton-Gore administration continues to thumb it nose at the Constitution by trying to implement a global warming treaty (the Kyoto Protocol) that has not been ratified by the U.S. Senate. High on the agenda is securing millions of taxpayer dollars for the World Bank's Global Environment Facility (GEF), an aid program tied to the global warming treaty. The administration has requested $143 million for the GEF. If Congress does not trim this request, millions of taxpayer dollars will windup in the hands of environmental pressure groups.

Fortunately, a draft version of the Senate's foreign operations appropriation only provides $25 million to the GEF, and the House may reduce the sum further. That's the good news. The bad news is that last year Congress denied the administration's budget request of $300 million for the GEF, only to be betrayed by the Republican leadership, who reinserted $200 million without consulting the members. A similar capitulation could occur again this year if GEF opponents are not more vigilant.

The GEF is a program under the World Bank that was created to pacify environmentalist critics of World Bank spending. The green fund shields the World Bank from such criticisms by paying for energy and land use restrictions in poor countries. Some of its projects implement the Kyoto Protocol, while others implement another U.N. treaty on "biological diversity" that the Senate has not ratified.

Most importantly, the GEF has become a giant protection racket in which environmental activists shake down the World Bank in exchange for their silence and even their support. The scheme has worked magnificently as Green organizations have ended their campaign to abolish the World Bank — even though they don't consider it any more "Earth-friendly" than before.

The arrangement between the World Bank and the private, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) is working well. The NGOs lobby Congress for increased funding, and the GEF picks NGOs to help run its projects. Thus more money eventually ends up in the pockets of the environmental pressure groups.

To date, at least $390 million of the GEF's funds have been channeled to projects in which Green lobbying organizations are listed as the "executing agencies" or "collaborating organizations" (see chart). Lobbyists for environmental regulations like the World Wildlife Fund, International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and even the extremist Greenpeace have been on the receiving end of this green pork.

The Clinton-Gore administration wants more GEF funding to implement the Kyoto Protocol. The Senate made it clear that it will not ratify the protocol unless developing countries participate. Funding of the GEF allows the administration to claim developing countries are participating —by accepting money from the American taxpayer.

This is not unprecedented. China and other developing countries resisted participation in the Montreal Protocol that banned a crucial air coolant until the industrial nations agreed to fork over more foreign aid. Though China was recently awarded $420 million to deprive its people of affordable air conditioning, Beijing claims it will need $860 million to complete the job. As hundreds of millions of poverty-stricken Chinese suffer through summer heat without air conditioning, this aid will pay for communist bureaucrats, NGOs, and Western consultants who will teach them how to buy expensive substitutes for freon.

The Kyoto Protocol calls for U.S. taxpayers to make similar contributions -to Third World nations. Funds distributed by the GEF have already been used to curtail. energy use in India, for example. If Congress continues to fund the GEF, the Clinton administration will claim that enough developing countries are participating in the Kyoto treaty to warrant Senate ratification.

Some of the damage done by last year's budget deal has been rectified. Congress has recalled $25 million from the nearly $200 million that was allocated last year. If it truly wants to prevent taxpayers from being forced to subsidize the agenda of international Green pressure groups, it will stop funding the GEF altogether.