What's with Newt Gingrich and Agenda 21?
November 18th, 2011
08:12 PM ET
10 years ago

What's with Newt Gingrich and Agenda 21?

(CNN) - If you weren't listening closely to Newt Gingrich at the last GOP debate, you might have missed it.

"I would adopt a very strong policy towards the United Nations of dramatically taking on its absurdities," the former House Speaker said. "I would explicitly repudiate what Obama has done on Agenda 21 as the kind of interference from the United Nations," he then added.

Did you catch that? Agenda 21. What exactly is Agenda 21?

The United Nations adopted Agenda 21 as part of a global initiative to combat climate change at the 1992 Earth Summit in Brazil.

According to the U.N.'s website, "Agenda 21 is a comprehensive plan of action to be taken globally, nationally and locally by organizations of the United Nations System, Governments, and Major Groups in every area in which human impacts on the environment."

Even though the U.S. government is not legally bound by the initiative, local governments across the country have implemented some of its strategies for sustainable development. Smart growth, transportation planning, and limited rural development are all Agenda 21 goals.

But some tea party groups see the potential for abuse. Conservative activists have petitioned local governments to scrap their Agenda 21 plans out of fear the initiative could one day interfere with personal property rights.

Fears of Agenda 21 cropped up at a meeting of the Carroll County Board of Commissioners in Maryland in August.

"Everywhere I go today people, particularly in the tea party, are very worried about Agenda 21," Gingrich told a tea party crowd in July.

"It's part of a general problem of the United Nations and other international bureaucracies that are seeking to create an extra constitutional control over us. And I reject that model totally," he added.

The former speaker's comments are posted on his YouTube page. He tweeted out a link to the video after Saturday's South Carolina debate, co-sponsored by CBS News and National Journal.

Gingrich warned the crowd Agenda 21 could potentially be used to seize the private property of American citizens.

"It's a United Nations proposal to create a series of centralized planning provisions where your local city government can't do something because of some agreement they signed with some private group who are all committed to taking control of your private property and turning it into a publicly controlled property," Gingrich said.

The rising GOP contender promised another tea party crowd in September he would take quick action to block the initiative if he's elected president: "That's probably going to be one of the first executive orders and that is to cease all funding for any kind of activity for United Nations Agenda 21."

But Agenda 21 detractors have critics of their own. Phil Stoddard, mayor of the tiny city of South Miami in Florida, says Gingrich is playing on conservative fears.

"I think they're out of their minds," Stoddard said.

A passionate believer in the threat of climate change, Stoddard said his city adopted Agenda 21 to ease traffic congestion and cut down on pollution. Stoddard added local governments also learn from one another based on the results of Agenda 21-inspired smart growth initiatives.

"This is just a way for us to share information to combat climate change and promote sustainable development," Stoddard said.

On the campaign trail in Iowa earlier in the week, Gingrich acknowledged to reporters Agenda 21 is not legally binding.

"It is part of a treaty that has never been endorsed by the (U.S.) Senate and I don't think the federal government should be in the process of implementing something that the Senate has not approved," he said.

So why bring it up?

"Because it's being implemented at the local level," Gingrich responded.

Climate change is a touchy subject for Gingrich. In 2008, he appeared in an ad with then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to deliver a call for national action to combat global warming. In his run for the GOP presidential nomination, Gingrich has told reporters the ad was a mistake.

Filed under: 2012 • Newt Gingrich • United Nations
soundoff (85 Responses)
  1. bawana

    eye of newt,,, hair of dog,,,tooth of toad,,wart of hog,,,mix it up and what do you get ? a GINGRICH

    November 18, 2011 08:18 pm at 8:18 pm |
  2. GetOverIt

    Fear-mongering windbag.

    November 18, 2011 08:36 pm at 8:36 pm |
  3. dnick47

    Newt you're a lying SOB Always were, are now and will be. Like "Contract With America" its just showboating with nothing of real substance.

    November 18, 2011 08:37 pm at 8:37 pm |
  4. dwech

    Stirring up the tea-troops over Agenda 21 is fear-mongering at its worst. Thinking globally about the effects of pollution on climate change, water, air and soil quality just makes sense. Most rational folks see this for what it is, Newtster.

    November 18, 2011 08:38 pm at 8:38 pm |
  5. Brian

    The US government has been seizing private property since the days of the founding fathers. The amount of land seized, then dedicated to private industry was at its highest in the Bush administration. So why is this a big issue, today, but not in the last 225 years?

    November 18, 2011 08:45 pm at 8:45 pm |
  6. SiriusVH

    How about scaring people out of their (limited) wits with a few chosen preposterous claims?

    November 18, 2011 08:51 pm at 8:51 pm |
  7. Kenny K

    I wonder how much he got paid to do the ad; it is his habit to get paid ,and then turn around and bad-mouth.

    November 18, 2011 08:52 pm at 8:52 pm |
  8. Debbie

    I would say how low can Gingrich go to try and get the TEAParty to believe he is concerned about anyone other than himself but then leaving wife # 1 dying of cancer and cheating on her is still his lowest. Would offer up to the TEA's to note how Newt was drummed out of the House by his own on too many ethics violations. Trustworthy Gingrich is not.

    November 18, 2011 08:52 pm at 8:52 pm |
  9. Name Stephanie from Pittsburgh

    That's right gringrich get votes out of fear just like George Bush. When all else fails scare them to death

    November 18, 2011 08:58 pm at 8:58 pm |
  10. filthycajun

    Earth to Newt: if it's being implemented at local levels... maybe some people want it in their communities? Just a thought.

    November 18, 2011 09:03 pm at 9:03 pm |
  11. Dave

    There isn't many people that know what agenda 21 is. It's a much more a cynical plan then your local town just telling you to throw your empty soda cans in the recycling bin....it's more in line with how another country wants you to live as they do from 4000miles away. Go get 'em Newt!

    November 18, 2011 09:12 pm at 9:12 pm |
  12. alan

    I agree that Gingrich is just playing on conservative fears, just like they did about Obama taking away gun rights, that caused countless republican to go out and buy guns before Obama became president fearing that it was their last chance. We all know the truth now that Obama hasn't done anything to restrict gun rights. The gun shops loved it though, as they probably had their most profitable year in history.

    November 18, 2011 09:16 pm at 9:16 pm |
  13. kc

    Un so confused newt is For global warming? wow!

    November 18, 2011 09:16 pm at 9:16 pm |
  14. Michael Q

    Are you kidding me... this guy is just proving to be what he is ... a gentle father-figure wacko!

    November 18, 2011 09:18 pm at 9:18 pm |
  15. kunle

    Politicians make mistake in judgement? At what cost?

    November 18, 2011 09:19 pm at 9:19 pm |
  16. me

    Does anyone think anything but hypocrisy would come from Newt./ He invented hypocrisy. What a gross little marshmallow of a man, and his wife looks like a little Barbie doll whose head would fall off if she were bumped.

    November 18, 2011 09:28 pm at 9:28 pm |
  17. WHOOSH

    Gingrich is a fear mongering mistake.

    November 18, 2011 09:29 pm at 9:29 pm |
  18. Shawn in MD

    Hrrmmm, hey Newt it not "Obama" it is "President Obama"

    November 18, 2011 09:38 pm at 9:38 pm |
  19. David

    Good old shifty-eyed nervous Newt – saying he's against something he was for. Notice he never answers a direct question with a direct answer. Also notice his face appears to be strung together like Frankenstein's monster in the photo above
    the headline....he is indeed a man of many faces.

    November 18, 2011 09:40 pm at 9:40 pm |
  20. Brian Dodge

    It's good to know that Newt, having caught a bad case of stupid from the Tea Party, is now against "sustainable development. Smart growth, transportation planning, and limited rural development."

    November 18, 2011 09:47 pm at 9:47 pm |
  21. judith

    This is just another way for the Neuter to SCARE folks without telling them the whole truth about the resolution. I can not believe that this cheating woman chasing guy is out there and being taken seriously. We get what we deserve and boy of boy we do not deserve him

    November 18, 2011 09:54 pm at 9:54 pm |
  22. Clwyd

    Newt is an idiot and sound s like he's spilling the republican line that, "There is no-global warming!" Today's report from the UN and from 1,000's of scientists makes Newt and the republicans look like and sound like kindergartners for their total lock of intelligence! Just plain ignorant!

    November 18, 2011 09:54 pm at 9:54 pm |
  23. John

    So why bring it up?

    "Because it's being implemented at the local level," Gingrich responded.

    Once again, Republicans believe in that decisions are best made by state and local government. Unless they disagree with them. Then they are all about Federal control.

    November 18, 2011 10:04 pm at 10:04 pm |
  24. GaiL

    If there's a chance my property is going to be taken away from me, I wanT to know what I can do about it. The Government has already stolen eVery. Dime of savings we had! Now this? Senator Reid is a trIllionaire, hed Could give back our money, but no more stealingt From the middle class!!! We're broke because of Wall Street wilde the Govt just keeps getting richer. Shorfterf terfms. Less power and boot them all out. ThAnk you, gail

    November 18, 2011 10:06 pm at 10:06 pm |
  25. jack

    the man is disturbed....and very disturbing

    November 18, 2011 10:08 pm at 10:08 pm |
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