Conversations about Forced Scarcity, COP27 Finds Its Hero

Brazilian president-elect Lula may have wowed attendees, but he didn’t eliminate the destructive, zero-sum mindset animating most climate policy.

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The processes internal to the COP27 negotiations are far behind schedule to produce any consensus on tough issues such as reparations, but attendees found a savior when Lula arrived. Half a dozen members of Congress joined us via Zoom for a conversation from the COP, and so far they are unimpressed with the Biden administration’s energy policies.

Wednesday’s Headline

Every crisis needs a hero. And a struggling conference can use one too. The Washington Post reports on the slow-moving talks and places the blame at the feet of the host country. Meanwhile, the assembled worthies could not get enough of Lula — Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, the former and soon-to-be president of Brazil. He was greeted by throngs, interrupted by soccer-style chants of his name, and squired around to meetings alternately with youth leaders, U.S. envoy John Kerry, and Chinese minister Xie Zhenhue.

Brazil’s president-elect had arrived by private jet to announce, “The fight against climate change will have the highest profile in the structure of my government.” It didn’t take long for Lula to call for the end of deforestation of the Amazon, prioritization of Indigenous peoples, and more money from wealthy nations for poorer nations. He also started the public lobbying to bring a future COP meeting to the Amazon region. The suggestion was supported within hours by French president Emmanuel Macron.

The charismatic Lula is for many a compelling advocate for the poor. But it’s worth remembering that more than half of Brazil’s electricity is provided by fossil fuels. It (and its people) are beneficiaries of wicked carbon. What’s more, Brazil already has a large installed base of hydropower, so it’s no newcomer to renewables. The country uses more than a third of all the energy in South America. Like so many other world leaders here, Lula is asking for money, but he should not be misled by the cheers that greeted his arrival. As he prepares to lead the government of a nation with one of the largest economies in the world and tremendous natural resources, people will likely be lining up for Brazil to contribute to all the various U.N. funds, too.

What Wasn’t in the Headlines

The list of countries that did not send a head of state is long and telling. It was widely anticipated that China’s Xi Jinping and India’s Narendra Modi would skip the meeting. Absent last-minute surprises, other no-shows included government leaders from Argentina, Australia, Canada, Japan, Mexico, South Korea, and Turkey. COP27 is supposedly devoted to implementation of “solutions,” often involving the transfers of massive amounts of money. One way to avoid a massive unfunded mandate that lasts for the rest of the century is to make oneself scarce.

Another Takeaway for Free-Marketers

In an exclusive interview with CEI for NR Capital Matters, U.S. senator Shelley Moore Capito discussed energy policy, permitting reform, and COP27. When asked about the loss-and-damage discussions taking place at the U.N. meetings, she replied, “Well, to me that sounds like an enormous, giant blame game.” Clearly she is not in favor of the Biden administration’s negotiating reparations payments for industrialization or the emissions of the past 150 years.

On the question of artificial energy scarcity that results from demonizing traditional energy sources, she added, “What we’re saying to the other countries that have yet to develop is: You can’t have and we don’t want you to have cheap abundant fossil fuels because we know better. It worked for us, but we’re not going to let it work for you.”

Read the full article at National Review.