Imperialism Of The Apocalypse
Rich people are depriving poor people of cheap energy in the name of climate change. Why?
Few appear to care about climate change more than global celebrities. In 2019, Leonardo DiCaprio told the U.N., “Climate Change is our single greatest security threat.” Late last year, DiCaprio and Jennifer Lawrence starred in the Hollywood climate disaster movie, “Don’t Look Up.” Said Lawrence, “You're watching these hurricanes now and it's hard, especially while promoting this movie, not to feel Mother Nature's rage or wrath." In a United Nations speech earlier this year, Prince Harry said “Climate change is wreaking havoc on our planet, with the most vulnerable suffering most of all.” All have urged individuals and nations to radically reduce their carbon emissions.
And yet global celebrities are, along with global political leaders, the planet’s biggest climate hypocrites. DiCaprio, Lawrence, Harry, and Meghan have been flying on private jets, partying on gas-guzzling yachts, and riding jet skis for years. Already 400 private jets, which are five to 14 times more polluting than commercial flights, have arrived in Egypt for United Nations annual climate talks. Last year, 40,000 people flew to Scotland, many on private jets, for climate talks, generating an estimated 102,000 tons of carbon dioxide, the equivalent of burning 237,000 barrels of oil. After they arrived, they were treated to a video of a talking CGI dinosaur, voiced over by Jack Black, urging African nations to not use fossil fuels.
It’s true that celebrities have promised to do better. DiCaprio flew commercial to climate talks last year. Meghan and Harry flew commercial back to London last year. Lawrence flew commercial after her private plane nearly crashed. And most of the 30,000 participants in this year’s climate talks will arrive in commercial airplanes.
But DiCaprio still jet-sets around the country for short stops, giving him a much larger carbon footprint than the people he’s asking to sacrifice. Lawrence expresses guilt for it (“I know, flying private, I deserve to die.”) but still does it. Harry and Meghan returned from London to their home in Santa Barbara in their own private 12-seater luxury jet. And simply flying across the Atlantic in a commercial jet emits more carbon emissions than the average human produces in an entire year.
What’s worse, global elites are demanding that poor nations in the global south forgo fossil fuels, including natural gas, the cleanest fossil fuel, at a time of the worst energy crisis in modern history. None of this has stopped European nations from seeking natural gas to import from Africa for their own use.
Rich nations have for years demanded that India and Pakistan not burn coal. But now, Europe is bidding up the global price of liquified natural gas (LNG), leaving Pakistan forced to ration limited natural gas supplies this winter. India will need to build 10 to 20 full-sized (28 gigawatts) coal-fired power plants over the next eight years to meet a doubling of electricity demand.
At last year’s climate talks, 20 nations promised to stop all funding for fossil fuel projects abroad. Germany paid South Africa $800 million to promise not to burn coal. Since then, Germany’s imports of coal have increased eight-fold.
Consider the case of Norway, Europe’s second-largest gas supplier after Russia. Last year it agreed to increase natural gas exports by 2 billion cubic meters, in order to alleviate energy shortages. At the same time, Norway is working to prevent the world’s poorest nations from producing their own natural gas by lobbying the World Bank to end its financing of natural gas projects in Africa.
It’s monopolistic imperialism dressed up as green altruism. Rich nations are only agreeing to help poor nations so long as they use energy sources that cannot lift themselves out of poverty. UN climate talks aren’t about the rich helping the poor. They’re about bribing corrupt leaders in poor nations to leave their fossil fuels for rich nations.
The IMF wants to hold hostage $50 billion as part of a “Resilience and Sustainability Trust” that will demand nations give up fossil fuels and thus their chance at developing. Such efforts are working. On Thursday, South Africa received $600 million in “climate loans” from French and German development banks that can only be used for renewables. The Europeans hope to shift the $7.6 billion currently being invested by South Africa in electricity infrastructure away from coal and into renewables.
Celebrities and global leaders say they care about the poor. In 2019, the Duchess of Sussex, Meghan Markle, Prince Harry’s wife, told a group of African women, “I am here with you, and I am here FOR you… as a woman of color.” Why, then, are they demanding climate action on their backs?
In August 2019, Greta Thunberg sailed from Europe to New York to set an example of how to live without emitting carbon. But Greta’s renewable-powered sailboat trip across the Atlantic produced four times more emissions than flying. The reason was that sailing required a sailboat crew, who flew back home afterward.
The reason even the most sincere greens consume large quantities of energy is simple: living in wealthy nations and doing things that people in wealthy nations do, from driving and flying to eating and living in a home, requires significant quantities of energy.
Global leaders and climate celebrities say that renewables can result in economic growth in Africa and south Asia but they know perfectly well that their private jets don’t run on solar panels. And it’s common knowledge that flying by jet results in significant carbon emissions.
Indeed, celebrities routinely acknowledge their guilt. “I know,” said Lawrence, “flying private, I deserve to die.” Elton John bought carbon offsets to supposedly cancel out Harry and Meghan’s emissions. And a spokesperson for Thunberg acknowledged, “It would have been less greenhouse gas emissions if we had not made this departure.”
Al Gore knows that his twenty-room home uses twelve times more energy than the average home in Nashville, Tennessee. He knows that renewables can’t lift people out of poverty, and will make people in rich nations poorer. Why else would he insist, “We are going to have to change the way we live our lives” in order to solve climate change?
There is no “energy leapfrogging” — that’s just rich world propaganda to greenwash imperialism. Per capita income remains tightly coupled with per capita energy consumption. There is no rich low-energy nation just as there is no poor high-energy one. While Europeans consume less energy than Americans, on average, this is due less to environmental virtue and more to the fact that they rely more on trains and less on cars, due to higher population densities.