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Fighting Climate Change With Trade 155

mdsolar writes with this story about the possible elimination of tariffs on environmental goods between the world's largest economic powers. The United States, the European Union, China and 11 other governments began trade negotiations this week to eliminate tariffs on solar panels, wind turbines, water-treatment equipment and other environmental goods. If they are able to reach an agreement, it could reduce the cost of equipment needed to address climate change and help increase American exports. Global trade in environmental goods is estimated at $1 trillion a year and has been growing fast. (The United States exported about $106 billion worth of such goods last year.) But some countries have imposed import duties as high as 35 percent on such goods. That raises the already high cost of some of this equipment to utilities, manufacturers and, ultimately, consumers. Taken together, the countries represented in these talks (the 28 members of the E.U. negotiate jointly, while China and Hong Kong are represented by separate delegations) account for about 86 percent of trade in these products, which makes the potential benefit from an agreement substantial. Other big countries that are not taking part in these talks, like India, South Africa and Brazil, could choose to join later.
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Fighting Climate Change With Trade

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  • Get rid of them all (Score:5, Informative)

    by bill_mcgonigle ( 4333 ) * on Sunday July 13, 2014 @01:43PM (#47443473) Homepage Journal

    If people really care about global warming and economic activity, they should read the latest IPCC report. It says that the best way to avoid warming is economic development. If the economy freezes in place (something a high carbon tax could do) then the warming will be about 4C by the end of the century. If the economy in all the "third world" countries develops into something like first-world conditions by the continued march of progress, then the warming will be closer to 1C.

    Anything that stands in the way of that development is going to contribute to the warming. Removing these tariffs is a good thing, but to get maximum environmental benefit they need to get rid of the rest.

    I know, Overton's Window and all.

  • by mattwarden ( 699984 ) on Sunday July 13, 2014 @02:41PM (#47443773)

    The US uses tariffs to offset subsidies by China, for example, on PV panels. If you agree to eliminate the tariffs without addressing the subsidies, then it doesn't solve the problem, and it certainly doesn't "increase American exports" as the summary suggests. Of course, you'd have to eliminate the US's green subsidies, too.

    I'm sure you're all in favor of that, right?

  • by mattwarden ( 699984 ) on Sunday July 13, 2014 @02:52PM (#47443843)

    > The point you seem to be missing is that the climate change we are experiencing now is happening MUCH faster than any in the past

    Serious question: how could you possibly know this with any reasonable degree of reliability? Even in the last 70 years, our ability to measure global average temperatures has become orders of magnitude more precise, let alone O2 and CO2 levels. There is no way to determine whether tangential methods of measurement, like ice cores and tree rings, are accurate.

Honesty is for the most part less profitable than dishonesty. -- Plato