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UN Corruption Exposed in Kyoto
P.J.O`Rourke suggests that everybody wants to save the planet; nobody wants to help wash the dishes. UN employees have gone him one better. While the world's attention was focused on saving the earth, some United Nations employees were lining their own pockets. The specific offense, reports the Japanese daily Asahi Shimbun, was "double-dipping," that is, illegally collecting two salaries simultaneously. Nonetheless, UN employees working on the climate conference were also receiving "retirement bonuses" and other forms of remuneration from the Japanese government. Tokyo officials explained that UN salaries are somewhat lower than those of the Japanese government; the Japanese officials tasked to the UN for the Kyoto conference preparations were simply trying to make up the difference. Saving the Earth isn't Reward Enough?
Four-legged NGOs good, two-legged NGOs bad?
We couldn't help but notice the very intriguing NGO event held last week, provocatively entitled "History of the Fossil Fuel Disinformation Campaign at the Climate Talks." The featured speaker was Jeremy Leggett, ex-Greenpeacer and now a solar power advocate. Naturally, we wanted to hear all about this juicy conspiracy theory. Unfortunately, the event was open to "accredited press and invited NGOs only." CEI wasn't invited -- so much for openness and public participation.
The CEIs of the world do not fit neatly into the UN's black-hat, white-hat categories. As advocates of the free market, we are neither an industry NGO nor an environmental NGO. (In fact, we wince at the term NGO, since we do not measure our entire existence in reference to the government.) The Kyoto conference attracted a host of nation states, observer nations, IGOs (Intergovernmental Organizations), and NGOs (non-governmental organizations). Informally, the NGOs are divided into environmental and business groups -- we're neither.
We'd suggest a reclassification. Businesses might best be classified as CSOs (Consumer Satisfaction Organizations); governments might be viewed as MSOs (Market Suppression Organizations), and environmentalists are PBOs (Pro-Bureaucracy Organizations). CEI and other free market and conservative organizations are better viewed as PMOs (pro-market organizations).
Of course, many of the industry lobbyists in Kyoto are simple rent seekers -- hoping for policies that will protect their narrow interests. Dwayne Andreas and Archer Daniels Midland have become the model for a wide array of business groups, even in Kyoto. The Business Council for a Sustainable Energy Future is a leading example, as are the various groups seeking to profit from emission trading. These business groups have abandoned the role of satisfying their customers, and now seek both special exemptions for themselves and regulatory restraints on their business competitors and the Third World. If the world must go on an energy diet, someone will surely make a buck? and it might as well be them.
"Conserve paper...reduce the volume of documentation" exhorts a UN sign. Well, it was a nice thought.
The amount of trash being produced by this "environmentally-conscious" crowd is truly amazing. The conference generated three tons of paper waste during its first four days, according to the Daily Yomiuri. At this pace, seven and a half tons of paper will be discarded over the course of a ten day conference.
But paper is the basic ammunition of policy wars and the NGOs have carpeted every table in the conference hall with fliers, pamphlets and other publications. Journalists in the press center complain that they can scarcely work at their own desks. Certainly, the noise to signal ratio is high -- there is far more passion than rationality in most of the materials distributed.
Of course, CEI has played its part, distributing our own materials, as well as materials sent to Kyoto by other groups skeptical of a UN climate treaty, such as Citizens for a Sound Economy, Center for Security Policy, Heritage Foundation, Consumer Alert, Fraser Institute, European Science and Environment Forum, and The Advancement of Sound Science Coalition. With few PMOs in Kyoto, CEI is seeking to demonstrate that opposition to an energy suppression treaty is not a fringe position.
The environmentalists are old hands at UN meetings, of course. They not only produce paper, they have developed elaborate delivery systems to ensure that it reaches the media. They recognize that this is a world of information overload; that most of the materials distributed here will not be read. They have developed many creative events that place them continuously in the media focus -- and provide leveraged ways of gaining media access. They present mock and real awards; they recruit children, they build creative displays. (Greenpeace hauled to the site a massive Tyrannosaurus of junk metal welded together to dramatize the waste of modern society.) They issue environmentally friendly travel tickets (air travel warms the planet you know), and they enlist religious and political leaders.
NGO events are highly labor intensive, and are possible only because of the vast numbers of environmentalists committed to influencing the climate treaty. As one goes throughout Kyoto, one finds banners everywhere, dance groups performing environmental ensembles, Shinto priests extolling the virtues of a simple lifestyle -- all this in one of the most advanced consumer-oriented societies in the world. As free market and conservative groups become more prominent at these events, we can only hope to replicate this environmentalists' strength.