Of all the shocking budget deal capitulations the Republican Congress made to the White House, none is more inexplicable than the decision to provide almost $200 million in taxpayer funds to the World Bank's Global Environment Facility (GEF), an aid program tied to the global warming treaty.
Currently, Clinton-Gore administration negotiators are in Buenos Aires, Argentina, for another United Nations summit on global warming. Thanks to Congress' miscue, they now have considerable financial backing to bolster last year's Kyoto Protocol on climate change which -finances both the global warming treaty and the biodiversity treaty, is a prime example of a big government boondoggle. To date, this green slush fund has.
spent roughly $700 million. Almost half, $312 million, was channeled to projects in which Green pressure groups are listed as the "executing agencies" or "collaborating organizations" (see chart). Lobbyists for the global warming treaty, like the Wald Wildlife Fund, International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and even the extremist Greenpeace, have been the beneficiaries of this greenhouse pork. They have used this money to restrict economic growth and land use in Third World countries.
An incestuous relationship has developed between government agencies and the private, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) they pay to lobby Congress for increased funding. After winning $193 million for the GEF from Congress, Bill Powers of the IUCN wrote to fellow activists: "Both State [Department] and GEF CEO Mohamed El-Ashry have expressed their appreciation to the NGO community for its work on this. Congratulations to all those who have put in the. hours lobbying for the GEF over the past months. . . . It seems to have weighed in in the endgame?'
Why these agenda-driven organizations have been receiving government funding is a mystery. For starters, neither the Kyoto Protocol nor the Biodiversity Convention have been ratified by the Senate. The first global-warming treaty, signed by President Bush in 1992, contained no binding commitments that would require substantial funding of an international agency. The only purpose seems to be the enrichment of the "non-governmental" Green lobby, which in turn works on the international level to expand regulatory controls and increase spending on environmental pork. Giving any public money to the green fund risks implementation of a treaty without ratification, an affront to the Constitution.
Aware of these risks, both the Senate and the House voted to shave millions from the Clinton administration s $300 million GEF budget request. Rather than uphold the decisions of the people's representatives, however, Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott and House Speaker Newt Gingrich caved in to Clinton administration demands for a quadrupling of GEF funding. The new money makes up for several years worth of Clinton administration funding requests that Congress had refused in previous years. 'And this is to advance a treaty," complains Sen. Chuck Hagel, Nebraska Republican, "that the administration does not have the guts to send to the Senate to debate. They don't have the guts to do it because they know it would be defeated.
The congressional leadership's loss of nerve gives climate treaty proponents tremendous, momentum. The GEF funding provides the Clinton administration with .plenty, of financial ammunition to close symbolically important deals with key developing countries. For several months, the Clinton administration has been offering Argentina foreign aid in exchange for negotiating concessions on the Kyoto treaty, according to Argentine officials. Now the State Department has 4 times the amount of bribe money at its disposal. If even a token, Unenforceable agreement is reached at the U.N. global-warming summit, the Clinton administration will have a powerful rhetorical weapon with which to bludgeon Kyoto opponents in the Senate.
Congress has one last chance to limit the damage from the global-warming slush fund fiasco. It can insist on enforcement of a legal requirement in the 1999 budget authored by Rep. Joe Knollenberg, Michigan Republican, which forbids the White House from using any taxpayer dollars for the purpose of lobbying on behalf of the Kyoto Protocol or for implementation of that treaty. All necessary steps should be taken to prevent taxpayers from being forced to subsidize the agenda of international Green pressure groups.