Skip to main content

Taxing the carbon footprint of world trade

With nations entering a new period of protectionist tariffs,  it is time to rethink the regulation of global trade.   Global trade is the driver of climate pollution and climate change.

Call for Carbon Charging:

In an article in Nature this month, three leading environmental experts have called for carbon charges rather than trade tariffs.

With President Trump imposing heavy tariffs on goods from China and the EU, and those countries following with retaliatory barriers, they fail to address the real problem of global trade.  That countries are simply exporting pollution and emissions through imports.

The authors point out that with all good intention of the Paris Climate Accord, it is unlikely that the target will be met of keeping warming below the critical 2 degrees centigrade above pre-industrial levels.  This would be so even if all countries were to meet their targets set out in their individual action plans.

Photo by Elle Dunn

Tackling carbon-intensive global trade

Only by tackling the drivers of global warming could it be possible to restrict global warming, and that means addressing the nature of global trade.

The Paris agreement has two main flaws.  First, the pledges are unbalanced.  Countries that do little will benefit from those that do more.  With a full blown trade war, it is increasingly unlikely that this situation could hold for long.  Secondly,  counties can simply export their pollution, buying carbon-intensive goods elsewhere, whilst boasting that they are 'meeting their emissions targets'.

Smart trade

The authors argue that now is the perfect time to redraft global trade, by bringing together the twin problems of trade and climate change.  To do this they argue for punitive carbon tariffs.  Instead of indiscriminate, protectionist barriers,  countries should impose a 'carbon charge' on imports.

This is not a new idea.  What is new, is the climate for action.  Last year, French President Macron called such charges 'indispensable'.   The US House of Representatives passed a Bill back in 2009, which did not receive approval from the Senate.

The authors argue that restricting trade in carbon-intensive goods by what they refer to as 'smart trade' is the only way to achieve climate targets.

 If you like this article, please help us by subscribing and getting the latest updates.


Subscribe to The Thin End


Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Ian Duncan-Smith says he wants to make those on benefits 'better people'!

By any account, the government's austerity strategy is utilitarian. It justifies its approach by the presumed potential ends. It's objective is to cut the deficit, but it has also adopted another objective which is specifically targeted. It seeks to drive people off benefits and 'back to work'.  The two together are toxic to the poorest in society. Those least able to cope are the most affected by the cuts in benefits and the loss of services. It is the coupling of these two strategic aims that make their policies ethically questionable. For, by combining the two, slashing the value of benefits to make budget savings while also changing the benefits system, the highest burden falls on a specific group, those dependent on benefits. For the greater good of the majority, a minority group, those on benefits, are being sacrificed; sacrificed on the altar of austerity. And they are being sacrificed in part so that others may be spared. Utilitarian ethics considers the ba

Prioritising people in nursing care.

There has been in recent years concern that care in the NHS has not been sufficiently 'patient centred', or responsive to the needs of the patient on a case basis. It has been felt in care that it as been the patient who has had to adapt to the regime of care, rather than the other way around. Putting patients at the centre of care means being responsive to their needs and supporting them through the process of health care delivery.  Patients should not become identikit sausages in a production line. The nurses body, the Nursing and Midwifery Council has responded to this challenge with a revised code of practice reflection get changes in health and social care since the previous code was published in 2008. The Code describes the professional standards of practice and behaviour for nurses and midwives. Four themes describe what nurses and midwives are expected to do: prioritise people practise effectively preserve safety, and promote professionalism and trust. The

Mr Duncan-Smith offers a disingenuous and divisive comparison

Some time ago, actually it was a long time ago when I was in my early teens, someone close to me bought a table. It was an early flat pack variety. It came with a top and four legs. He followed the instructions to the letter screwing the legs into the top. But when he had completed it the table wobbled. One leg he explained was shorter than the other three; so he sawed a bit from each of the other legs. The table wobbled. One leg, he explained, was longer than the other three. So, he sawed a bit off. The table wobbled. He went on cutting the legs, but the table continued to wobble. Cut, cut, cut! By this time he had convinced himself there was no alternative to it.  He ended up with a very low table indeed, supported by four very stumpy legs and a bit of cardboard placed under one of them to stop it wobbling on the uneven floor.  Mr Duncan-Smith argues that we need a 1% cap on benefits to be 'fair to average earners'. Average  earners have seen their incomes rise by less tha