A New Way to Fund the Madrassas?

One complaint from national security hawks about the developed world’s use of oil has been that it directs Western money to Middle Eastern sources who then use it to fund the spread of Islamic radicalism. Ergo, they argue, it is imperative to reduce oil use. Several of them have therefore joined forces with green interests in a “strange bedfellow” alliance.

Unfortunately, because their interests only coincide tangentially, it is now becoming apparent that the policies each that these individual partners advocates are actually harmful to the aspirations of the other. For instance, national security hawks are very pleased with a move towards ethanol, whereas the environmentalists mostly recognize the harmful effects of ethanol production on the environment and world hunger and also concede that it provides very little benefit in terms of reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.

Today provides an example of the boot on the other foot. The green lobby is very keen on carbon trading and carbon offsets – essentially the West paying other nations not to pollute. It provides (theoretically) not only for lower emissions but also a wealth redistribution. The monied interests of the Middle East are now recognizing the potential here:

The two are eyeing several projects in the United Arab Emirates that could cut greenhouse gas emissions and generate carbon emissions reduction certificates (CER) under a United Nations scheme. Later, they will look at similar projects across the rapidly growing economies of the Middle East.

So, even if carbon trading causes the U.S. and other developed economies to reduce their use of Middle Eastern oil, it is likely that a large amount of money could still end up in the hands of what the hawks call the “terror masters.” Indeed, if the Middle East becomes a global center of carbon trading, it is likely that the West will be transferring money there that might otherwise have gone to other parts of the world. Given that some have estimated that the carbon trading market could be worth trillions of dollars, that’s a sobering thought.