US Must Pay for Climate Change Impact of Its Goods Produced in China: Commerce Secretary

made in china photo

photo: mandiberg via flickr.

President Obama may have spoken out against assessing carbon tariffs on goods entering the United States that are produced in countries without adequate control of their greenhouse gas emissions, but speaking in China, Commerce Secretary Gary Locke expressed support for the idea. In fact, as quoted by Reuters he was quite enthusiastic about the idea, already incorporated for certain products in the American Clean Energy & Security Act:Locke told the American Chamber of Commerce in Shangahi,

It's important that those who consume the products being made all around the world to the benefit of America -- and it's our own consumption activity that's causing the emission of greenhouse gases, then quite frankly Americans need to pay for that.

OK, so it's not the most succinct quote...but the point is clear.

China has previously expressed opposition to these carbon tariffs, and has voiced concern that combatting climate change should not be used as a pretense for protectionism.

9% of China's Emissions From US-bound Goods
While the West often points fingers at China for its increasing carbon emissions, in fact one third of these emissions are the result of manufacturing goods for export, with 9% of China's total emissions being tied to goods destined for the United States and 6% for Europe.

We Must Pay the Environmental Cost for These Goods
Whether the exact proposals in ACES are the right way to go about incorporating the carbon impact of goods produced overseas into their prices in the US is certainly open for debate, but Locke's position is otherwise entirely correct: We must incorporate this environmental impact into prices consumers pay (everywhere in the world, really, not just the US) if we are to create an environmentally responsible global trade regime.

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