It is hard to imagine the global policy environment around climate change can get any wonkier through 2020 than it has been through 2019. The Oxford Dictionary declared the two-word slogan “climate emergency” to be the 2019 Word of the Year, although that was before the crash-and-burnout of the 25th United Nations’ intergovernmental Conference of the Parties (COP25) in Madrid. It’s a climate emergency, but let’s put the whole thing off until COP26 next November in Glasgow.
Propelled by Greta Thunberg, who attempts to live without consuming energy, the 2019 extremist policy options range from $250-a-tonne carbon levies to new climate taxes on ice cream, restaurant dining, meat and alcohol. “Might taxing ice cream help reduce greenhouse gas emissions?,” said a Globe and Mail column headline this week. The food tax idea is a bit of a retreat from an earlier Globe opinion piece that described climate change as a war that required such wartime measures as national rationing.
The idea of using rationing — depriving consumers of their right to consume via taxes or other war measures — has been around for a couple of decades in radical enclaves frequented by such eco-activists as Britain’s George Monbiot and Canada’s Naomi Klein. At Canada’s Socialist Project, a total wartime takeover of the economy to avoid global warming is seen as essential.
As 2020 wears on, leading up to COP26 in Glasgow, we can expect to hear more of these and other wonky plans to seize control of economic activity in the name of fighting climate change — although not all ideas will take direct aim at consumers feeding on meat and ice cream at the bottom of the economic production chain.
At the top of the economic system, the corporatist left is scheming to control the flow of money and cut off funding to business activities that may be contributing to the climate emergency.
These schemes go by many names and cover many aspects of corporate fibioreportsce beyond climate: ethical investing, sustainable fibioreportscing, green fibioreportscing, social fibioreportscing, impact investing, ESG investment, responsible investing. At their extreme, these movements aim to impose a form of rationing on investment.
Cutting off the flow of money to fossil fuel as a “socially undesirable” activity is certainly the prime objective of Mark Carney, who is about to become the world’s leading public proponent of the idea that global fibioreportscial markets need to be controlled and manipulated. The former Bank of Canada governor leaves his post as head of the Bank of England to take up a new role as the United Nations’ “special envoy on climate action and fibioreportsce.”
The UN Secretary General’s announcement last month summarized Carney’s new mission: “He will focus on ambitious implementation of climate action, with special attention to significantly shifting public and private fibioreportsce markets and mobilizing private fibioreportsce to the levels needed to achieve the 1.5°C goal of the Paris Agreement. This will include building the frameworks for fibioreportscial reporting, risk management and returns in order to bring the impacts of climate change to the mainstream of private fibioreportscial decision-making and to support the transition to a net zero carbon economy.”
In short, Carney will assume the role of chief advocate for a centrally planned global fibioreportscial system whose primary aim is to reduce carbon emissions to zero. In a year-end interview with the BBC (as part of a program guest-edited by Thunberg), Carney outlined the tricky part. The market cannot do the job since it is based on “selective information, spin, misdirection.” Instead, he said, there needs to be a “shared understanding about what’s necessary. It is reasonable for there to be debates at the margin about where does the role of the state stop — and what’s the role of markets.”
The idea that the market is dumb compared with non-market state-backed actors should be more than a discussion “at the margin.” By shuffling the topic to the sidelines, Carney is joining the UN, radical activists such as Thunberg’s Extinction Rebellion and the expanding cabals of corporate executives who are willing to abandon whatever market principles they hold or pretend to hold in the name of protecting the planet from disaster.
At the UN, Carney is taking over from Michael Bloomberg, the media mogul who is now running for the leadership of the Democratic Party. Bloomberg is among many corporate executives and fibioreportscial billionaires — from BlackRock’s Larry Fink to Tom Steyer and members of the U.S. Business Roundtable — who have decided to overthrow the role of markets in favour of greater non-market controls and authoritarian policy manipulation.
More than markets are being manipulated. A recent article by the University of Colorado’s Roger Pielke Jr. — “How Billionaires Tom Steyer and Michael Bloomberg Corrupted Climate Science” — describes how they helped fund and promote the most extreme and improbable climate scenarios they are now hyping as part of their platforms.
As he begins his tenure as the world’s official climate-planning fibioreportscial propagandist, Mark Carney is promoting the same extreme scenarios as he campaigns against the fossil fuel industry. Canada’s energy firms are right to be concerned. Non-energy companies should also be worried. The focus on fossil fuels is only one small part of the emerging sustainable/green/social investment movement. Ice-cream makers beware.
Coming Friday: The Canadian push to regulate and control investment decisions