What Carney ultimately wants is a technocratic dictatorship justified by climate alarmism
By Peter Foster June 5, 2021 In his book Value(s): Building a Better World for All, Mark Carney, former governor both of the Bank of Canada and the Bank of England, claims that western society is morally rotten, and that it has been corrupted by capitalism, which has brought about a “climate emergency” that threatens life on earth. This, he claims, requires rigid controls on personal freedom, industry and corporate funding.Carney’s views are important because he is UN Special Envoy on Climate Action and Finance. He is also an adviser both to British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on the next big climate conference in Glasgow, and to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
Since the advent of the COVID pandemic, Carney has been front and centre in the promotion of a political agenda known as the “Great Reset,” or the “Green New Deal,” or “Building Back Better.” All are predicated on the claim that COVID, and its disruption of the global economy, provides a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity not just to regulate climate, but to frame a more fair, more diverse, more inclusive, more safe and more woke world.
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Carney clearly feels himself to be a man of destiny. “When I worked at the Bank of England,” he writes in Value(s), “I would remind myself each morning of Marcus Aurelius’ phrase ‘arise to do the work of humankind’.” One is reminded of French aristocrat and social reformer Henri de Saint-Simon, the “grand seigneur sans-culotte,” who ordered his valet to wake him with similar words: “Remember, monsieur le comte, that you have great things to do.”
However, market valuations are essentially different from moral values, a distinction Carney continually muddles. He misrepresents the marginalist/subjectivist perspective, claiming that it implies that anything not commercially priced is not considered valuable. “Market value,” he writes, “is taken to represent intrinsic value, and if a good or activity is not in the market, it is not valued.” But who holds such an idiotic view? Nobody “prices” their family, children, friends, community spirit or the beauties of nature, although there is certainly lots of calculation going on in the background. Carney constantly berates “market fundamentalist” straw men who employ “standard economic reasoning” and who believe that people are rational and markets perfect.
Carney’s confusion is hardly innocent since his Agenda depends on incessantly claiming that “What had been biblical is becoming commonplace.”
Fortunately, Carney has been making claims about worsening weather for long enough that we can assess some of his predictions. In his recent book Unsettled: What Climate Science Tells Us, What It Doesn’t, and Why It Matters, Steven Koonin, former undersecretary for science at the Obama-era U.S. Energy Department, cites the speech Carney made to Lloyd’s of London before the Paris climate conference in 2015. The speech was designed to frighten the insurance industry into divestment from fossil fuels, on the basis that many oil and gas reserves would be “stranded” as we exhaust our allowable carbon “budget.” Carney pointed out that the previous U.K. winter had been the “wettest since the time of King George III.” He went on to say, “forecasts suggest we can expect at least a further 10% increase in rainfall during future winters.” For support he cited the U.K. Met Office’s forecast for the next five years. It turned out to be dead wrong. The six winters after 2014 averaged 39-per-cent less rainfall than the 2014 record. Meanwhile a Met Office report in 2018 acknowledged that the “largest source of variability in U.K. extreme rainfalls during the winter months was the North Atlantic Oscillation mode of natural variability, not a changing climate.”
To further that end, Carney has helped to start a key organization, the Network for Greening the Financial System (NGFS), a collection of central banks and regulators. He has also signed up an ever-growing constituency of activist policy wonks who peddle emissions measurement and certification, eco audits and ESG rankings. This agenda is inevitably appealing to transnational organizations such as the International Energy Agency (IEA), the IMF, the World Bank and the OECD, whose empires are all lucratively intertwined with the global governance thrust. In May, the IEA issued a report calling for an immediate end to fossil fuel investment to get to net-zero.
Part of Carney’s strategy is to force “voluntary” standards on banking and industry, then have governments make those standards compulsory. The major accounting firms appear keen to promote the possibility of endless auditing extensions, under which the relatively straightforward metric of money is to be replaced by the infinitely malleable concepts of “purpose” and “impact.”
What Carney ultimately wants, like Saint-Simon, is a technocratic dictatorship justified by climate alarmism. He suggests that “governments can delegate certain aspects of the calibration of specific instruments… to Carbon Councils in order to improve the predictability, credibility and impact of climate policies.” These carbon councils will be able to demand that national governments “comply or explain” when they inevitably fall short of targets. How these commissars will bring governments into line is unclear, although Nobel economist William Nordhaus has suggested “Climate Clubs” that will punish recalcitrants with punitive tariffs.
The threat of punishment will clearly be necessary because governments are doing little more than hypocritical tinkering on climate policy. China and India are hardly even playing lip service to the “climate emergency.” Nevertheless, according to Carney “political technology” is needed to “build a broad consensus around the right goals.” No question of debating the goals, or the science, just building a consensus to support them.
Carney is a man on a mission to change global society. “Business as usual” — the most hated phrase in the socialist lexicon — is “ultimately catastrophic,” he writes. There is too much “misplaced acceptance of the status quo.” But somehow the new socialism will not be socialism as usual. This time it’s different. We can because we must. The threat is too great to permit any argument. It’s surprising that as he was picking out choice quotes from Lenin for his book, Carney missed this one: “No more opposition now, comrades! The time has come to put an end to opposition, to put the lid on it. We have had enough opposition!”
Peter Foster is the author of 10 books. His most recent is How Dare You!, a collection of his National Post columns. His previous book was Why We Bite the Invisible Hand: The Psychology of Anti-Capitalism.