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Earth China

Fixing China's Greenhouse Gas Emissions For Them 322

mdsolar writes: 'Paul Krugman, who won a Nobel Prize for understanding world trade, has proposed carbon tariffs as a way to get China to cut greenhouse gas emissions. He wrote, "China is enormously dependent on access to advanced-country markets — a lot of the coal it burns can be attributed, directly or indirectly, to its export business — and it knows that it would put this access at risk if it refused to play any role in protecting the planet. More specifically, if and when wealthy countries take serious action to limit greenhouse gas emissions, they're very likely to start imposing "carbon tariffs" on goods imported from countries that aren't taking similar action. Such tariffs should be legal under existing trade rules — the World Trade Organization would probably declare that carbon limits are effectively a tax on consumers, which can be levied on imports as well as domestic production. Furthermore, trade rules give special consideration to environmental protection. So China would find itself with strong incentives to start limiting emissions." As I read it, Article XX of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade does indeed allow us to unilaterally impose tariffs on China.'
mdsolar continues, "I'd suggest that there should be a ramped approach. First, we should acknowledge that dangerous climate change has come early and we are already suffering damages. The growth in Federal crop and flood insurance payouts is owing to the effects of climate change. Instead of increasing premiums, we should use climate damage tariffs to cover this increase. That amounts to a pretty small tariff, but it firmly establishes the liability connection. Non-Annex I countries (as listed in the Kyoto Protocol) are becoming the main contributors to cumulative emissions just as climate change has turned dangerous, that makes their emissions the cause of dangerous climate change. An accident of timing? Yes. But deliberately increasing emissions, as China is doing, eliminates safe harbor as well.

This small tariff could be used as a stepping stone to larger tariffs imposed cooperatively with other Annex I countries if China does not turn around. The larger tariffs could be used to assist with adaptation costs in countries with low per capita emissions where vulnerability to dangerous climate change is high. Lack of a clear funding mechanism for this sort of thing has been a sticking point at climate negotiations. This would essentially get funds from those who are causing the damage."
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Fixing China's Greenhouse Gas Emissions For Them

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  • Yes, good idea. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Animats ( 122034 ) on Sunday June 08, 2014 @02:26AM (#47189035) Homepage

    That's a good idea. China needs an economic incentive to clean up their air pollution problem. They can certainly do it. It took less than 20 years after the US Clean Air Act to get air pollution under control.

  • Better idea (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 08, 2014 @02:31AM (#47189043)

    How about we all stop buying cheap Chinese shit if we care so much?

  • by mdsolar ( 1045926 ) on Sunday June 08, 2014 @02:45AM (#47189077) Homepage Journal
    Correct. But industry in the US would pick up, leading to more domestic prosperity. Without the tariff, China gets to lower costs of production and compete unfairly, reducing US GDP. Note also that we are paying this in increased flood and crop insurance premiums. The latter directly cuts into the competitiveness of our agricultural exports. Better to pay with external tariffs than internal premiums.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 08, 2014 @02:49AM (#47189091)

    No, it will make goods made in Korea, Japan, Thailand more competitive. ALSO, it will encourage Apple, IBM, Dell, HP etc etc to consider what is happening as it will increase to the cost of their goods, so they will be putting pressure on the Chinese government too.

    On the other side, if nothing is done you will pay more for insurances, more for food and everything else in your life.

    Climate change does not stop for people who don't believe in it, the insurance companies believe its going to impact them so they are already increasing insurances to cover the expected costs. This will be passed onto consumers wether they believe or not.

  • by Misagon ( 1135 ) on Sunday June 08, 2014 @03:08AM (#47189157)

    You could also see it this way:
    You would be taxing away the competitive advantage that companies in a polluting country would have against companies in those who restricts its carbon emissions.

    In the short term, it would promote domestic business. In the long term, the polluting country is supposed to lower its emissions and get back in the game, and then both foreign and domestic companies should be able to compete on the same terms - creating more competition and again lower prices.

  • The facts? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Rick in China ( 2934527 ) on Sunday June 08, 2014 @03:19AM (#47189183)
    China produces more TW-h per year than any other country at this point in time. There is already a HUGE effort in China to improve on that further. This is a nonsensical piece, the US is still the world's leader in terms of human waste production and CO2 emissions *per person* - I'm not sure what the political/fearmongering purpose behind this is but I'm sure there is one.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 08, 2014 @03:21AM (#47189189)
    Nobel did institute a prize for economics, and the other social studies. It is called "Nobel prize for literature".
  • Bollocks (Score:5, Insightful)

    by The Evil Atheist ( 2484676 ) on Sunday June 08, 2014 @03:43AM (#47189219) Homepage
    Why should China, or any developing country, give up its own economic development when the currently developed and powerful countries didn't have to and because they lack the political will do their part? Developed countries should see this as an opportunity to make money from China by selling them back cleaner technology that the developed countries invent.

    It's bollocks to say "well, we already have a developed economy and we're too scared to change anything, so we'll make you live by the sink or float rules that we impose on you because we can".
  • by K. S. Kyosuke ( 729550 ) on Sunday June 08, 2014 @04:48AM (#47189323)

    China needs an economic incentive to clean up their air pollution problem.

    I've read the other day that skilled (== in high demand) foreign workers have already started refusing to move into Chinese cities, citing health reasons. They want extra money for health insurance/risk compensation. I'd call that an incentive.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 08, 2014 @05:13AM (#47189379)

    LOL, "unfairly"? China's per capita emissions are lower than Europe and the US, what alternative reality do you Americans live in? You Americans are so out of touch reality we wonder what's going to happen to you guys when your own shit finally hits your own fan.

    Forget about lower prices, once the dollar collapses and the US loses the ability to print money like psycho and make the rest of the world suffer for it, the price of oil will double overnight in the US, which instantly makes everything else more expensive.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 08, 2014 @05:32AM (#47189429)

    USA and Europe cleaned up their mess by transferring the production to factories that polluted even more, but this time in China. The companies used "agents" and well connected locals to handle the corruption needed to pollute effectively. The local Chinese citizen loved it as long as they got a small part of the money. They did not see the problems at that time.

  • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 ) * <mojo@wo[ ] ['rld' in gap]> on Sunday June 08, 2014 @05:55AM (#47189465) Homepage Journal

    The EU has been doing this for a long time. RoHS stopped them putting hazardous substances in products just to keep costs down. We already have a scheme for carbon trading that takes into account companies that do their manufacturing in China, although it could go a lot further.

    Nice to see the US finally waking up to this.

  • by PolygamousRanchKid ( 1290638 ) on Sunday June 08, 2014 @08:15AM (#47189733)

    This sort of reminds me of a Monty Python sketch about who to tax:

    "I think we should tax foreigners living abroad", and "I think we should tax people standing in puddles of water."

    The point being, that everyone thinks that problems can be solved by taxing someone else.

  • by angel'o'sphere ( 80593 ) on Sunday June 08, 2014 @09:40AM (#47189943) Journal

    The USA only want to put an carbon tax/tariff on foreign products.
    They will look pretty dumb when the 'foreigners' put the same tariffs on US products.
    AFAIK the USA are just a very small bit behind China in CO2 output. That means per inhabitant and also per 'product produced' the USA produce far far far more CO2 than China.
    When we have world wide CO2 based tariffs, the USA will be the first country going 'bankrupt'.

  • Re:That's the idea (Score:4, Insightful)

    by hodet ( 620484 ) on Sunday June 08, 2014 @10:39AM (#47190119)

    Probably because solutions that depend on the herd to implement never happen. Not arguing for or against, I am just saying that expecting everyone to do the right thing will not happen. The only way it does is to legislate it. People are generally selfish and will continue to choose the $1 widget over the $10 widget.

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