What Your Moral Superiors Are Up To

You probably think that the main thing that people claiming to be your moral superiors have been up to for the past few decades is covering up the story of Harvey Weinstein's sexual predation.  And you are right, that has been an important part of their activities, particular those of them who are Democratic pols on the receiving end of Weinstein's largesse, or those who are part of the insufferable Hollywood/entertainment groupthink clique.  But there is another activity that consumes even more of the time and attention of these moral preeners, and that is their never-ending struggle to keep the poor poor.  Of course, they wouldn't put it quite that way.  In their minds, they mainly believe that they are "saving the planet" -- staving off some theoretical and unmeasurable hundredths of a degree of global warming a hundred years from now.  The poor are just the collateral damage.

I have previously discussed multiple instances of our self-proclaimed moral betters getting deluded into supporting programs that have the effect of obstructing the ability of the poor to improve their condition.  For example, in this post I discussed proposals of the IMF to increase the amounts of taxes and grow the size of the state in poor countries; and in this post I discussed the support from none other than the Pope for proposals to restrict access of the poor to cheap and functional energy and electricity.  Sometimes the effort to point out such immoral follies has seemed rather lonely.  Can you ever recall reading a piece in any mainstream source calling out some progressive proposal for its effect in keeping the poor poor?

But today I would like to applaud one of my comrades in true morality, the Global Warming Policy Foundation of England.  This morning they published a new Report titled "The Anti-Development Bank:  The World Bank's Regressive Energy Policies."   The author is Rupert Darwall, the same guy whose new book "Green Tyranny" was covered in my post just a few days ago.

Now the World Bank has never been one of my favorite organizations.  If you wonder why rich countries got rich without any outside aid and poor countries stay poor forever even though they get endless amounts of outside aid, just take a look at the World Bank.  What works in economic development is rather obvious:  limited government, private property, the rule of law, and private investment.  The World Bank model is the opposite:  government-to-government lending for state-owned projects.  The result is endless bad ideas, with limited-to-no market discipline, and with the frequent result of destroying rather than creating wealth.  But on the other hand, it's hard to say that poor countries couldn't use electricity, even if it has to be through a state-owned or state-supported utility.  Surely, the World Bank could at least do that.

But in practice, it can't.  Instead, the World Bank, like all international organizations today, is completely in the grip of the climate change religion, and totally willing to sacrifice the poor at the altar.  Darwall and the GWPF document just how far this has gone.

The World Bank’s stated mission is to alleviate poverty. . . .  [But u]nder its president, Dr Jim Yong Kim, appointed by President Obama in 2012, the World Bank abandoned its core development mission.  It did this by prioritising environmental sustainability over poverty reduction.  In 2013, it adopted anti-coal funding policies, effectively blocking investment in what, for many developing nations, is likely to be the cheapest and most reliable generating capacity. The World Bank’s near categoric refusal to finance coal-fired capacity is worsened by it favouring high-cost, unreliable wind and solar technologies. This amounts to an inhumane and senseless attempt to try to save the planet on the backs of the world’s poor. 

It seems that in 2013, early in the presidency of Dr. Kim, the World Bank put out a big Report, "Toward a Sustainable Energy Future for All: Directions for the World Bank Group’s Energy Sector," in which it announced that it basically would no longer finance cheap electricity that works (i.e., coal) and instead would inflict upon the poor countries expensive energy that doesn't work, namely wind and solar.  According to that Report, henceforth new coal plants would only be considered in "rare circumstances."  From Darwall:

To date, the only coal project considered by the World Bank since adoption of these criteria in 2013 is a 600-MW lignite power station in Kosovo, for which it is providing $40m that is deemed crucial to the underwriting of the $2 billion financing cost of the project. The project was the very last coal plant in the World Bank’s pipeline; the Kosovo government has spent more than a decade trying to build it. 

So they're out there in poor countries trying to build an electrical grid from scratch, but with no background of dispatchable power plants, and nothing but wind and solar.  Does anybody realize that this isn't going to work?

There has been no technological breakthrough in the intervening period [since 2013] that has solved the inherent unreliability and cost disadvantages of wind and solar. Rather, what changed was the World Bank’s decision to subordinate the needs of today’s poor to green ideology. . . .  The World Bank’s mission has been subverted by green ideologues who assert that a low-carbon world benefits the world’s poor but fail to acknowledge that making energy much more costly increases poverty.  

So -- let the poor freeze in the dark.  Doesn't that make you feel really morally superior?