ICLEI, founded at the United Nations in 1990 as the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives, also known as “Local Governments for Sustainability” is an international association of local, regional, and national governments and other non-profit organizations that have stated a commitment to what they describe as sustainable development.
What is Sustainable Development? The answer is debatable depending on who you ask. As for the UN, who works closely with ICLEI, they describe and attempt to market what sustainable development is, in the following video. In 2015, UN Member States adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development which listed 17 goals to achieve sustainability.
These 17 goals include:
1. No Poverty
2. No Hunger
3. Good Health
4. Quality Education
5. Gender Equality
6. Clean Water and Sanitation
7. Renewable Energy
8. Good Jobs and Economic Growth
9. Innovation and Infrastructure
10. Reduced Inequalities
11. Sustainable Cities and Communities
12. Responsible Consumption
13. Climate Action
14. Life Below Water
15. Life on Land
16. Peace and Justice
17. Partnerships for the Goals.
What is the basis for these 17 goals being presented as the pathway toward sustainable development? Earlier versions of these goals come out of the 1992 Rio Earth Summit under a plan known as Agenda 21, later renamed and re-branded as Agenda 2030 in 2015. The full text of Agenda 21 and Agenda 2030 is available on the United Nations Website.
What is Agenda 2030? It’s the Action Plan to inventory and control all land, all plants, all water, all minerals, all construction, all means of production, all information, all energy, all education, and all human beings in the world. Where does ICLEI fit in? They are the local branch of your Global Government.
In an interview with James Corbett of the Corbett Report, Patrick Wood, Author of “Technocracy Rising” explains the background and origins of Agenda 21 (later re-branded as Agenda 2030) as being the global policy for the United Nations today.
The plan was signed at the UN in 1992 by US President George HW Bush as well as 178 other nations. At this time, all US Federal agencies changed their rules to conform to UN Agenda 21.
The Chairman of the 1992 Rio Earth Summit was Maurice Strong, a Canadian Oil Magnate and close family friend of US Oil Tycoon, David Rockefeller. This CBC Documentary from 2004 titled “The Life and Times of Maurice Strong” loosely explains Strong’s rise to power, and his role in helping to form United Nations Global Environmental Policy.
However even before the 1992 Rio Earth Summit, A “World Conservation Bank” was proposed by Edmond Rothschild in 1987 at the 4th World Wilderness Conference (helmed by Maurice Strong). The idea eventually became a reality as the Global Environmental Facility after the Rio Earth Summit. The Global Environment Facility was a pilot program part of the World Bank to assist in the protection of the global environment and to promote “sustainable development”.
In Chapter 33 of the Agenda 21 Document, the annual estimated cost to implement Agenda 21 is over 600 billion dollars per year in 1990’s dollars.
But do these policies actually help the environment? Or do they merely give the illusion of helping the environment?
Let’s take a look at a Local example from the United States of a Pacific Northwest City, Bellingham Washington. A College town, close the Canadaian border, often branded as “a less weird version of Portland, Oregon”. Bellingham, WA is a close Global Partner of ICLEI, and is often cited as being a “green” or environmentally conscious city, adhering to the principles of “Sustainable Development”. But not everything is as it seems on paper.
Shortly after joining ICLEI, In July 2006, the Bellingham City Council voted unanimously to begin buying renewable energy credits (or RECs) through Puget Sound Energy’s “Green Power Program” to offset 100 percent of the electricity used by the city government, around 21 million kilowatt hours in 2007.
Resolution 2006-28 Authorized the City of Bellingham to begin purchasing Renewable Energy Credits from Puget Sound Energy, equivalent to the amount needed to offset Bellingham’s Carbon Footprint. The resolution was later Amended in 2017 to allow the purchase of REC’s, not just through the local or state power company, but from any company in any state. The language is also so vague that it also possibly opens the door to purchasing International REC’s. In other words the taxpayers of Bellingham, WA might be paying for a power plant in Texas, New York, Florida, or possibly anywhere else in North America, South America, Europe, Africa, Asia or Australia.
Here’s a link to the full report:
But why would a city like Bellingham use taxpayer dollars to pay for projects in other states or possibly other regions of the world? Because it pays to be part of a global network.
By purchasing renewable energy credits and in essence joining a “pay to play network”, Bellingham is able to make their emissions outputs look good on paper, while not actually reducing real emissions by very much in the local area. As a result, the city is able to win money and prizes such as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Green Power Leadership Award for 2007 and 2008, and as a result was named the #1 Green Power Community in the entire country.
Who were some other EPA Green Power Leadership Winners in 2007 and 2008?
Some examples include Macy’s, The Timberland Company, Kohl’s Department Stores, PepsiCo, New York University, Starbucks, Johnson & Johnson, Whole Foods Market, Wells Fargo, Staples, The Philadelphia Phillies, The US Air Force, Intel Corporation, CISCO, and WhiteWave Foods Company.
Some 2017 winners of the award also include Capital One, Google, Microsoft, L’Oreal USA, Apple Inc. and Lockheed Martin. Here is the link to see the other “leaders” of green energy according to the EPA (by year):
Where does ICLEI fit in? They are integrated into hundreds of local governments are responsible for setting the emissions targets for cities joining their organization. They also provide technical consulting, training, policies, information services as well as software to influence local government’s development policies and actions. ICLEI’s basic premise is that locally designed and implemented initiatives can provide an effective and cost-efficient way to achieve globally engineered objectives.
In the case of Bellingham Washington, the first report released jointly by ICLEI and the city Bellingham in May 2007 titled “Greenhouse Gas Inventory and Climate Protection Action Plan” gave an inventory of, and set future targets for: greenhouse gas emissions in Bellingham.
ICLEI set the target for the City of Bellingham to reduce it’s total CO2 output to 70% below year 2000 levels by the year 2020.
In terms of real emissions to date, Bellingham was only able to decrease their CO2 output by about 13.3% from year 2000 levels. However they were able to meet all emissions goals by purchasing renewable energy credits as mentioned earlier to get the numbers down to 69% below year 2000 levels in the official climate report. Hitting these targets is important to city officials because it opens up access to further money and prizes.
In an article from the Bellingham Herald titled “Bellingham Declares 2016 Energy Year, 5 million dollars on the line” one such prize is mentioned in the article “The largest effort, known as the Bellingham Energy Prize, is the city’s attempt to win 5 million dollars as part of a two-year energy competition hosted by Georgetown University. Kilowatt Kitty, the program’s new mascot, made its debut at City Hall on Wednesday, Feb. 3, 2016.” At the same event, Derek Long of sustainable connections stated that the competition was custom made for Bellingham to win.
Ok…So Bellingham and thousands of other cities are buying renewable energy credits as well as other activities to offset their carbon footprint in the official numbers without directly reducing their real carbon footprint. In essence the goal is to make the numbers look good and then in turn they are able to win money, grants and prizes for being seen as a sustainable development leader in the country. Is there anything wrong with that?
Well…there are a number of problems with this approach. On the positive side, it does create a market for new renewable energy sources globally. Perhaps a community somewhere else in the world can’t afford to build new renewable energy sources and money can come from somewhere else to achieve that goal (offset from a wealthier city somewhere else around the globe).
But on the downside, it takes political power away from local citizens to make their own decisions about their own city’s energy production and development (perhaps no new local sources of renewable energy will be built at all, just REC’s purchased). It also redirects taxpayer dollars from one city to another without the approval of the voters from that city using a non-profit organization as a 3rd party. The resources and money for a local municipality are being managed by global organizations such as ICLEI, as well as powerful and large corporations who can afford to buy environmental credits and appear to be leaders in sustainable development.
Another question we should ask ourselves is “has it worked?”. Well…one could argue that it has created a false sense of security and progress in terms of environmental sustainability. The other possible problem is that it only measures CO2, not other forms of environmental effects and damage.
City funding also gets tied to reducing CO2 exclusively, doing otherwise would put future funds at risk. It also allows the biggest polluters to look clean by buying off their own carbon footprint if they are wealthy or profitable enough to operate in such a way, this market model could also be carried over into any other category for any other kind of environmental damage further down the line (let’s say lead levels, mercury levels, waste, etc.) giving people around the world a false sense of security and progress about the situation, similar to CO2.
It also creates a situation where the attention and focus of where the problem is coming from will be skewed from the reality and further controls implemented. Remember the biggest polluters and city governments can buy off their own carbon footprint. You can’t. REC’s pay out at a lower rate for individual citizens if you set up your own Solar Array, or generate your own electricity. This means that if you look at the official numbers, it looks like regular citizens are the problem, we’re driving our cars too much, using up too much carbon from keeping the lights on at night, we’re not packed densely enough, so we use more electricity and water. We need to ride the bus to our office job every day instead of driving. We’re the problem, just living our normal lives supposedly.
But there’s other ways, you could make it so more people can work remotely, they still have their own car, they just drive it way less. You can build cell phones and other products to last for a really long time, not break every 2 years. There’s many other ways to do this. These numbers are used as way to implement controls on the public in the name of “public health and safety”.
It also hamstrings local government officials to act locally to solve basic problems like homelessness in the community if it did anything to raise CO2 levels, even by a small amount. This would put future funds in jeopardy.
Back in Bellingham, as the prices of rent skyrocket, property values rise, wages remain flat, and homelessness continues to rise, the city of Bellingham spends around $400,000 a year sweeping up homeless camps. This means they find camps and homeless individuals throughout the city, find their tents and their supplies and will throw the supplies away if the homeless individual doesn’t leave. Meanwhile the city has not designated a safe place where homeless individuals can camp.
A local group in Bellingham, HomesNOW! Not Later. Attempted to show the city of Bellingham that a safe camp could be established as a transition to permanent housing. They established a camp on City Hall Property. It was intented to last 3 days, it lasted 18 days.
The group had a short list of demands:
1. A pathway to build a pilot project of 4 Tiny Homes and a service building within the city on city land.
2. Safe places for people to sleep outside without risk of being swept. A safe camping spot.
3. Safe places for cars/RVs to park for those living in vehicles.
4. Toilets and dumpsters near outdoor living sites.
5. Support Safe Storage Program (lease lockers to homeless for $0 with a contract). Available 24/7.
Even though one of the 5 demands from the group was porta-potties and dumpsters, one of the city council members, Michael Lilliquist used the argument that unsanctioned/unassisted homeless camps cause environmental damage, therefore safe camping spots would cause the same damage and would be littered with human waste.
For sure, everything has an impact, no doubt. But what has more of an impact? Having hundreds of unknown homeless camps that are off the books all around the city which are all dumping their own waste into the environment? Or a city sanctioned safe camping spot with regular garbage pickup and access to porta-potties 24/7?
Logically, having a safe camping spot with regular pickups of trash and access to porta-potties is good for the environment and reduces direct waste going into the local environment..But if a city vehicle helps to haul the trash away or helps to move the portapotties, it’s seen as a hit to Bellingham’s environmental score. It would be seen as a rise in CO2 emissions, and the city would no longer be eligible for millions of dollars in grants and prizes.
What are some other possible problems with a system like this being implemented?
Some Global partners of ICLEI include:
Cities Development Initiative for Asia, Cites Alliance, Clinton Climate Initiative, International Renewable Energy Agency, Environmental Centre for Central and Eastern Europe, Seoul Metropolitan Government, World Business Council for Sustainable Development, China Center for Urban Development, Siemens AG and McKinsey&Company.
Gino Van Beggin, ICLEI’s Secretary General, announces ICLEI’s 8th annual “Resilient Cities Congress” in Germany.
The association was established when more than 200 local governments from 43 countries convened at its inaugural global congress, the “World Congress of Local Governments for a Sustainable Future” in September 1990, at the United Nations in New York. Currently, more than 1200 cities, towns, counties, and local associations in 84 countries comprise ICLEI’s growing membership.
The numbers to show how we’re doing environmentally are created by the largest corporations and they can buy off their pollution…Which means the environmental situation is worse than we have been told. We need to focus on the source of the problem destroying our environment which is the billionaires, the major corporations, and them making products to break every year fast, Planned obsolescence. This means that even at current population levels we could reduce the waste as much as 50% or higher if only we build all products to last for a long time. Of course it would throw a wrench into the economy as we know it though.
2018 International Energy Conservation Code Advocacy Campaign:
Drone Footage Sparks Facebook Debate on Homelessness in Aberdeen:
ICLEI: International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives (aka) “Local Governments for Sustainability”
25 Years of ICLEI
Greenhouse Gas Inventory and Climate Protection Action Plan:
COP23: UN summit shows how Donald Trump is doing more damage to world’s climate than we ever realised
Corbett Report – What is Sustainable Development?
Corbett Report – Why Big Oil Conquered The World
Local Authorities Self Assessment of Local Agenda 21
ICLEI USA Member List – 2013 Web Archive:
Whatcom County Boards and Commission Vacancy – Climate Impact Advisory Committee:
Itek Energy Cuts the Ribbon at New Bellingham Facility
Full Text of Resolution 2005-08 – Bellingham Joins ICLEI:
New urban resilience partnership announced (Rockefeller Foundation)
Bellingham declares 2016 Energy Year; $5M on the line
Cities from Bellingham to Olympia Sign Agreements with Puget Sound Energy to Go Green
Municipal Excellence Awards – GOING GREEN
Bellingham City Ordinance 2016-11-037 – Future Land Use Map:
Renewable Energy Certificate (United States)
Are Green Power Programs a Scam?
No, Cities Are Not Actually Leading on Climate. Enough With the Mindless Cheerleading:
EPA – Green Power Leadership Award – All Years:
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Qatar green building code to be enforced by law