The thing to understand about the 12-day UN meeting on climate change starting in Copenhagen today, is it's not an environmental conference. It's an economic mugging.

That it's not about saving the planet. It's about making you poorer.

And finally, that the "solutions" it proposes to "fix" the climate, far from being intended to succeed, are guaranteed to fail.

How do we know? Because they've already failed.

The two major initiatives that emerged out of the UN process that created the Kyoto accord, were the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS), which is a multi-billion-dollar European cap-and-trade market in carbon dioxide emissions, and several mechanisms to generate carbon credits for industry.

A carbon credit, the basic stock unit of cap-and-trade, entitles the bearer to emit one tonne of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, with the daily price set by market trading, as occurs with any stock.

In the five years since Kyoto came into force in 2005, cap-and-trade and carbon credits have proven to be disasters.

The ETS hasn't helped the environment. All it's done is drive up energy costs, making ordinary people poorer, while showering Big Business and speculators with undeserved profits.

The carbon credit initiatives Kyoto established, such as the UN's Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), are riddled with profiteering and corruption.

To understand what's going to happen in Copenhagen, what you need to know is this.

The purpose of this meeting is to replace Kyoto, which expires in 2012, with a much larger treaty.

The real-world impact of that will be to expand Europe's cap-and-trade market into a global one, with far more carbon credits, and thus more opportunities for fraud.

But now there's a new twist.

To get developing nations, led by China, to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions -- which they aren't required to do under Kyoto -- developed countries like Canada will have to transfer billions of dollars annually to the developing world, ostensibly to help it cope with climate change and lower its emissions.

But based on the actual performance of Kyoto -- particularly the widespread corruption in the CDM, where developed countries invest in developing ones to obtain carbon credits -- there's no reason to think that will happen.

What will happen, based on real-world experience, is Big Business will make even more money -- from us -- without helping the environment.

That's why major U.S. money houses that triggered the global recession with irresponsible lending practices -- and who then received hundreds of billions of tax dollars in government bailouts -- are lobbying fiercely for global cap-and-trade.

They know they will make a fortune brokering carbon trading, at least before the speculative bubbles burst yet again, costing millions more jobs.

As we prepare to endure 12 days of misleading rhetoric, painful self-righteousness and Canada-bashing in Copenhagen, remember this.

The biggest corporate backer of Kyoto in the U.S., which lobbied incessantly in favour of carbon-trading because it saw an easy way to make a killing was ... Enron.

Ring any bells?

-- Goldstein is a Sun Media national columnist

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