Obama Science Czar Called for Carbon Tax to Redistribute Wealth from Global 'North' to 'South'

July 7, 2010 - 2:57 PM
Five months before President Obama named him director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, John P. Holdren called for carbon taxes that would allow the transfer of wealth from global 'North' to 'South.'

Dr. John Holdren, firector of the White House Office of Science and Technology (AP photo)

(CNSNews.com) – John P. Holdren, who then-President-elect Barack Obama nominated as director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy in December 2008, called just five months before his nomination for a global climate-change agreement that would allow wealth to be redistributed from countries in the global "North" to countries in the "South."
 
On the July 3, 2008 edition of the program “Democracy NOW!” Holdren told host Amy Goodman: “It’s important that we have a global agreement on how we are going to limit the emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases going forward, and an agreement that will include the tropical forests, that will include ways to transfer some of the revenues from carbon taxes or carbon emission permits in the North to pay for reduced deforestation in the South.” 
 
Holdren, who is sometimes called President Obama’s “science czar,” is the administration's top science official. 
 

 
(Video captured by and  courtesy of Eyeblast.tv.)

Holdren has talked about international wealth redistribution in his writing, as well as the alleged need to keep developing countries from the urge to “mimic overdevelopment,” which apparently has occurred in the United States and other Western countries.
 
In a 1977 college textbook he co-wrote, “Ecoscience,” for example, Holdren said the United States must set an example for the world by undergoing “dedevelopment,” and that wealth must be redistributed “with and among nations.”
 
“The need for de-development presents our economists with a major challenge,” he and his co-authors Paul and Anne Ehrlich wrote. “They must design a stable, low-consumption economy in which there is a much more equitable distribution of wealth than in the present one.”
 
“Redistribution of wealth both within and among nations is absolutely essential, if a decent life is to be provided to every human being,” said Holdren and his co-authors.
 
Dedevelopment, Holdren argued at the time, would set an example for developing countries and show “that being a citizen of a giant, smoggy, freeway-strangled industrial state is not necessary to being a happy, healthy, fulfilled human being."

President Barack Obama with John P. Holdren, director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (photo posted on the White House Office of Science and Technology blog, May 5, 2010).

The most recent climate-change bill being discussed in Congress, The American Power Act sponsored by Sens. John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), was created as a “discussion draft” to jump-start debate in the Senate where conversations have stalled since the House of Representatives passed a similar cap-and-trade bill in 2009.
 
Under the Kerry-Lieberman bill, international offset credits could be given to countries that reduce deforestation as detailed in Sec. 756(c ) of the bill, while Section 5004 calls on the Secretary of Agriculture and the administration of the Environmental Protection Agency to create a program “to provide assistance to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from deforestation in developing countries, in accordance with this title.”

Funding for that program would have to be appropriated by Congress at levels requested by the administration.

In his July 3, 2008 interview on “Democracy NOW!” Holdren said incentives to reduce deforestation would be a part of the solution, along with “real limits and real charges” on greenhouse gas emissions. He argued, however, that such charges would not be economically ruinous, but would instead create jobs.
 
“The moment we put real limits and real charges on carbon dioxide emissions, we will see a surge of innovation that will discover even better ways for reducing those emissions,” he said. “We will see new jobs and new wealth created as we convert our energy economy to a clean one rather than a dirty one. We will see new jobs and new income created in sustainable uses of tropical forests rather than cutting them down.”
 
“The notion that this is going to be unaffordable and an economic catastrophe to address this problem is just wrong,” said Holdren.
 
Before joining the Obama administration, Holdren was a professor at Harvard and the director of the Woods Hole Research Center in Falmouth, Mass.
 
The following is a transcript of Holdren’s comments on the July 3, 2008 edition of “Democracy NOW!”:
 
Dr. John P. Holdren:  “Well, I think the answer, first of all, is for the world to agree under the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change, which goes forward and has negotiations every year and will embrace in 2009 and in Copenhagen a new set of rules for the whole world.
 
“It’s important that we have a global agreement on how we are going to limit the emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases going forward, and an agreement that will include the tropical forests, that will include ways to transfer some of the revenues from carbon taxes or carbon emission permits in the North to pay for reduced deforestation in the South.
 
“We need a variety of measures in this global agreement going forward which will get everybody on the same page, and which will lead to the global emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases starting to decline in absolute terms no later than 2020. That’s the sort of trajectory we have to be on -- instead of increasing and the business-as-usual path forward.
 
“By the way, if we keep doing what we’re doing, we will double those emissions over the next 50 years. And what we need to do instead is have those emissions sharply declining over the next 50 years and that can be done -- the technologies either exist or are in the advanced stages of development to get that done.
 
“The moment we put real limits and real charges on carbon dioxide emissions, we will see a surge of innovation that will discover even better ways for reducing those emissions. We will see new jobs and new wealth created as we convert our energy economy to a clean one rather than a dirty one. We will see new jobs and new income created in sustainable uses of tropical forests rather than cutting them down.
 
“The notion that this is going to be unaffordable and an economic catastrophe to address this problem is just wrong.”