Coming Soon: Global Warming Trade Wars

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The Wall Street Journal reports that Energy Secretary Steven Chu is proposing tariffs on goods from countries that do not ration carbon:

tariff poster

Energy Secretary Steven Chu on Tuesday advocated adjusting trade duties as a "weapon" to protect U.S. manufacturing, just a day after one of China's top climate envoys warned of a trade war if developed countries impose tariffs on carbon-intensive imports.

Mr. Chu, speaking before a House science panel, said establishing a carbon tariff would help "level the playing field" if other countries haven't imposed greenhouse-gas-reduction mandates similar to the one President Barack Obama plans to implement over the next couple of years. It is the first time the Obama administration has made public its view on the issue.

"If other countries don't impose a cost on carbon, then we will be at a disadvantage…[and] we would look at considering perhaps duties that would offset that cost," Mr. Chu said.

Li Gao, a senior Chinese negotiator from the National Development and Reform Commission, told Dow Jones Newswires Monday that a carbon tariff would be a "disaster," would prompt a trade war and wouldn't be legal under World Trade Organization agreements.

Not surprisingly, the one area of the world that has already imposed restrictions on carbon dioxide emissions is also considering this idea. Reason foresaw the advent of global warming trade wars some years ago. For example, in one of my 2006 dispatches from the UN Climate Change Conference in Nairobi, I reported:

If Europe does go it alone with its carbon market, Europe's manufacturers will argue that they can't compete with foreign companies that don't have to pay for their carbon. Already the European Commission has convened a High Level Group to consider imposing border taxes to level the playing field…. such countervailing CO2 import tariffs could be compatible with World Trade Organization rules. [Why?] … after the United States banned ozone depleting chemicals in the 1970s, it began imposing tariffs on such imports and no one objected that it violated free trade rules.

Of course, comparatively few countries manufactured chlorofluorocarbons, whereas all emit carbon dioxide.

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  1. I swear, I’m going to shoot the next person who utters “Level the playing field” *

    * or “win/win” or anything mentioning children, natch.

  2. You’d think that concerns about protectionism would cause journalists at The Economist to be skeptical of climate change interventionism, but no, they are just like everyone else. It’s pretty sad.

  3. So just in case you weren’t sure that global warming had nothing to do with science and was just a tax and control wet dream thought up by liberal politician’s, I give you Steven ( no nuclear) Chu as proof of the scam.

  4. I know I used two “isms” in the last post, but seriously people. We are protesting coal plants in America while Chinese are building coal plants at an incredible clip. Who stands to win in the global marketplace? How long can our economy stand this backwards thinking before we are paying our debts in Yuan?

  5. And the great “Hope and Change” train rolls on – right over the cliff.

  6. Ah, protectionism.

    FDR was tragedy, Obama is farce.

  7. Why are all the links suddenly blue, rather than orange? Am I taking crazy pills?

  8. A trade war is just what the world needs now. Let’s follow it up with an actual war!

  9. We are protesting coal plants in America while Chinese are building coal plants at an incredible clip.

    If we were exporting coal emmissions reduction technology instead of bonds to benefit banks and other forms of misery, death and destruction, then this would not be an issue.

    VP Biden has covered this well.

    It would be a win/win for everybody and would save the starving children of China from freezing to death. It could even level the playing field for the developing world.

  10. Gee willikers, I thought everyone around the world was suppose to love the heck out of us now that we’ve rejected cowboyism and embraced our inner intellectual.

    Be really careful what you wish for world, because you don’t always know just what you’re really getting.

  11. In order to enforce CO2 restrictions without using nuclear technology, we will eventually be forced to fight real wars.

    Hundreds of millions of people in India, China and other parts of the world still live the harsh life of substance farmers. They are not going to leave their loved ones mired in such poverty just to head of some hypothetical future disaster. Even if you could convince the entire polity that global warming was real, even if it was real, they may well decide the benefits of having 1st levels of food, clothing, shelter, medical care, transportation, education etc outweigh the problems caused by bad weather.

    These people are going to barrel ahead to improve their lives and if we try to get in their way they will regard it as an aggressive act which will kill millions of their people (which it will, material poverty kills more than war). They will respond in kind.

    The only political solution to global warming is using reliable proven technology to provide cheap, plentiful, on demand power. That is not the path we in America and Europe have chosen.

    We should get ready to have our assess kicked by angry hungry people.

  12. On an interesting note, out of control coal fires in China produce more CO2 than all car and light truck use in the U.S. Maybe we should look into to that before we set off a trade war.

  13. Chad,

    Must be a site redesign. I’ve got mixed links, too.

  14. Why are all the links suddenly blue, rather than orange? Am I taking crazy pills?

    No, making orange light requires more energy than blue, HnR is doing its part to save the world.

  15. In order to enforce CO2 restrictions without using nuclear technology, we will eventually be forced to fight real wars.

    Are those fought with nuclear or carbon?

  16. Orange and blue links are pleasing to me. Must be Doherty bringing his Gator to the table at long last.

  17. I get the blue links sometimes when reason is being laggy. I hope they aren’t kept this way, I like the nice orange ones.

  18. Where are all the liberals and “liberaltarians” to defend this?

    Don’t all talk at once, now!

  19. I like the blue…

    Anyhow, I’m on the same wavelength as Shannon. Taking it a bit further, maybe the only thing this country and other “developed” countries need is a sound ass kicking.

    Eh, I’m dreaming there. That wouldn’t work either.

  20. How long until BO puts on a sweater and tells us to turn the thermostat down?

  21. How long until BO puts on a sweater and tells us to turn the thermostat down?

    Oh please. Carter had to rally the country with that. Obama is rallying the country with those crooks at AIG. Live in the now man.

  22. How long until BO puts on a sweater and tells us to turn the thermostat down?

    I’m guessing it won’t be before December.

  23. I swear, I’m going to shoot the next person who utters “Level the playing field” *

    * or “win/win” or anything mentioning children, natch.

    Or “Wall Street v. Main Street”.

    If we were exporting coal emmissions reduction technology

    If there was a market for it, we would. Attempts to create overseas markets by imposing tariffs on imports from those markets have not been notably successful.

  24. Smartass says…

    I swear, I’m going to shoot the next person who utters “Level the playing field” *

    * or “win/win” or anything mentioning children, natch.

    And then TofuSushi says…(priceless):

    “It would be a win/win for everybody and would save the starving children of China from freezing to death. It could even level the playing field for the developing world.”

  25. I think we could stand to make money exporting legitimately greener technologies, provided that we offer it and don’t try to force it. Certainly, as countries like India and China grow more affluent, their populations are likely to be more concerned about the environmental effects of energy production and manufacture. Good. That’s a market that we can serve.

    In fact, there’s a lot of money to be made helping other countries modernize, which is one reason GE will survive its current woes–because it’s hip deep in building infrastructure around the world.

  26. Why are all the links suddenly blue, rather than orange? Am I taking crazy pills?

    It’s a roughly annual fuck up that occurs at Reason.

    My guess is that the servers squirrels are striking in sympathy with French working rodents.

  27. Peaceful trade sanctions are the most effective way to get renegade regimes to respect our property rights. We cannot jsut allow these pirates to pollute the entire atmosphere with poisons while we struggle to reverse climate change.

  28. Quit spoofing me tofu@fu.com

    BTW, the links are orange again. An affront to the freedom fighters of Ireland!

  29. “…(priceless)”

    Meh. I’m sticking with tiresome.

  30. Pro Liberate,

    I think we could stand to make money exporting legitimately greener technologies, provided that we offer it and don’t try to force it.

    Except that “green” technologies are significantly more expensive and less proven and reliable than technologies of other hues. There is no compelling reason for poor people to take the reduction in their standard of living that using such technology requires. They will simply use home grown versions of real energy sources using proven, inexpensive technology.

    We’re going to find out the cost of going green ourselves. It’s going to be funny seeing how much “green” electricity cost someone in Michagan during the dead of winter. Since the modern economy is basically a system for using electricity to turn dirt into products, we’re going to lose a tremendous amount of our competative advantage.

    I would be willing to bet we end up 20-30 years down the road buying mass produced nuclear reactors from India or China.

  31. I wasn’t thinking frou-frou green so much as technologies like cleaner coal-burning plants, that sort of thing.

    Nukes are peachy with me. If anthropogenic global warming were actually a serious threat rather a speculative concern, we’d be going nuclear in a big way, wouldn’t we?

  32. If anthropogenic global warming were actually a serious threat rather a speculative concern, we’d be going nuclear in a big way, wouldn’t we?

    This makes sense to me. Betting that we can find a solution to spent fuel disposal seems less of a risk than GW.

  33. A highly qualified scientist turns out to be an ignoramus outside of his own field. Why is this not surprising?

    -jcr

  34. If anthropogenic global warming were actually a serious threat rather a speculative concern, we’d be going nuclear in a big way, wouldn’t we?

    You go nuclear to prevent AGW if you are motivated to maintain anything like current levels of consumption and material well-being.

    If motivations lie elsewhere, then perhaps not.

  35. And population. So we need a population cut down to, say, 100 million? Volunteers? Anyone?

  36. Ah… two of my favorite topics: climate change extremism and protectionism.

    Crap.

  37. Honestly this doesn’t seem like such a bad idea to me. Basically it’s a way to make Americans tax the carbon we consume rather than the carbon we produce, which produces better incentives. It’s inefficient for companies that, in the absence of a carbon tax, want to be in the US to move to China and produce the same or more emissions that they would have in the US as a response to a tax aimed at reducing emissions. And since CO2 affects everyone no matter where it’s produced, we have a vested interest in reducing CO2 emissions from China.

    The better solution would be to put a global carbon tax in place, and then distribute the revenues back to countries by population so that poor countries, which tend to emit less per person, would actually benefit from this whole business instead of being pushed back into poverty by it.

  38. “If motivations lie elsewhere, then perhaps not.”

    Oh, you mean something like a motivation to turn the entire country into one big hippie commune?

  39. “Honestly this doesn’t seem like such a bad idea to me”

    The best idea would be to forget about the whole thing, since there ins’t any actual proof that the carbon we are putting in the air has done anything to change the climate in the first place.

  40. And since CO2 affects everyone no matter where it’s produced, we have a vested interest in reducing CO2 emissions from China.

    Since seeing China gain in wealth as fast as possible is far more important to all of us than a degree or two of warming, we have a vested interest in exactly the opposite.

  41. …at least considering the current state of technology.

    If and when it becomes cheaper to produce low-carbon energy or to sequester atmospheric carbon than it is to produce high-carbon energy, then of course we should go there. Of course we will go there.

    Until it’s close, however, the costs both to the economy and to the aggrandizing of government authority are far too high.

  42. Basically it’s a way to make Americans tax the carbon we consume rather than the carbon we produce, which produces better incentives.

    Do we consume any carbon? I thought this was a tax on the carbon we produce. Color me baffled.

    The better solution would be to put a global carbon tax in place, and then distribute the revenues back to countries by population so that poor countries,

    No opportunities for corruption or abuse there.

    which tend to emit less per person, would actually benefit from this whole business instead of being pushed back into poverty by it.

    What will push poor countries deeper into poverty faster than anything is beggaring the productive countries. As with so much well-meaning malarkey from certain quarters, a global carbon tax would produce effects precisely the opposite of those intended.

  43. How long before environmental extremists learn that about 18% of the human body is carbon? And when they learn that, how long before they decide to turn on those of us hording carbon in this manner?

  44. Ah, protectionism.

    FDR was tragedy, Obama is farce.

    To be fair, FDR undid some of the protectionism of his predecesors.

    You’d think that concerns about protectionism would cause journalists at The Economist to be skeptical of climate change interventionism, but no, they are just like everyone else. It’s pretty sad.

    To be fair, as the official magazine for the New World Order(TM), the editors at the Economist assume that climate change policy with be implemented at a global level and hence no protectionism concerns.

  45. “Pro Libertate | March 19, 2009, 2:49pm | #

    And population. So we need a population cut down to, say, 100 million? Volunteers? Anyone?”

    pro lib, There is no possible way I could cull that many for free. It would require a small fee per thousand plus expenses.

  46. brotherben,

    Your avaricious nature has been logged. Only those who will cull for the good of Gaia are eligible for the contract.

  47. It looked to me that the culling would would occur naturally. Then that master of the Universe, Mr. Obama, fixed the economy and the coming natural balance was thrown off.

  48. Same thing happened about 70 years ago. Mr, Hitler, through his brilliance and aggression, set the world’s economy on the road to recovery. That surge lasted many decades.

  49. “Hundreds of millions of people in India, China and other parts of the world still live the harsh life of substance farmers.”

    Are subsistence farmers actually hooked into the global economy in any meaningful way? Why would they care about tariffs?

  50. Because they’d like someday not to be subsistence farmers?

    I don’t know… just a wacky thought.

  51. Just look at it as another victory for “science.”

    GO SCIENCE.

  52. Individuals CAN prevent Global Warming

    I am not completely convinced CO2 has anything to do with Global Warming. That notwithstanding, I am certain that reducing our reliance on fossil fuels is both a good idea and necessary, for a large number of obvious reasons.

    The good news is that we can all make a difference. It goes way beyond buying a few (polluting) low energy light bulbs, and will have a real impact if even half of those concerned about Global Warming follow the proposals. The beauty is that even if only half do this, it makes no difference what the rest do! Renewable energy will become cheaper than fossil fuels with enough investment in the technology, and everyone will move over naturally!

    Firstly, buy renewable energy.

    As far as I am aware, you have the choice to buy renewable electricity in all developed countries. If you cannot now, you should campaign for that inalienable right immediately. Currently our own household buys 25% of our electricity as renewable, costing us about US$33 extra per year. 100% would cost US$183)*.

    Some argue that if millions of householders (and industries, I would hope) buy renewable energy, there will not be enough. If you do not buy it, there will NEVER be enough. If you do, the money will be used to INVEST in infrastructure for future renewable energy, so making the expense just as effective.

    Merely by choosing to buy this, you are immediately and directly investing in the renewable energy industry, and sending a powerful and undeniable message to those who matter, the people who actually generate electricity, not environmentalists or politicians who may have different agenda.

    Secondly, stop investing in ‘Big Oil’ and ‘Big Coal’.

    It comes as a shock to many ordinary citizens to be told that the huge greedy corporations actually make money for THEM, not for some faceless consortium. Sure, corporate flunkies may make millions of dollars, but WE, as investors, make billions, and even trillions. Their huge payouts and massive junkets are insignificant compared to the profits the companies make for their investors.

    You may well think that you do not invest in these companies, but if you have a pension or investment fund, you almost certainly do. These funds will, quite obviously, be invested in the very companies that make the most profits and returns for their investors. All these corporations are doing is actually acting effectively YOUR instruction, ie to get the best possible return. If WE stop investing in them, they fail, and will be forced to change their practices to survive in a capitalist environment.

    The answer is to choose ethical investments (there may be different names). Talk to your financial adviser and make the switch now. ONLY YOU control your investments. Make the choice and stop letting others do it for you.

    You control the future, not governments or environmentalists.

    The message is that YOU control the future of energy production with your wallets. The bad news is that it will cost, but nothing the environmentalists or governments will ever do about this issue will cost you less than this, and most of what they want to do will take control away from you and waste most of your expenditure in bureaucratic bungling and misguided foolishness, in my opinion. This simple two-step approach has all the potential to work and with no complex side effects that I can see immediately. It has a direct and immediate effect.

    It is so rare that we are able to do something so straightforward in this complex world. If Global Warming concerns you, I urge you to put your money where your mouth is, and make an immediate difference TODAY, before the power is taken away from you.

    * Based on a usage of 5,000 kWh of electricity.
    Source: http://www.originenergy.com.au/1142/Green-energy-FAQs#extracost

    http://www.carbonclimate.info/2009/03/individuals-can-prevent-global-warming.html

  53. JEROME,

    Renewable energy will become cheaper than fossil fuels with enough investment in the technology, and everyone will move over naturally!

    Because technology is just like Tinkerbell in Peter Pan, if enough people believe in a particular technology than it will work.

    Renewable energy will never be cheaper than fossil fuels because due to its inherent unreliable nature, you have to have a 100% redundant backup always available to take over. So, renewable energy will always cost more than any other source of energy because you will have to include the cost of backup.

    Without nukes, that means a fossil fueled plants sitting around waiting to kick in to take up the slack.

  54. When will this country face the facts: AGW is a scam, a fraud, a transparent manipulation of social behavior. Fact 1: Not one other nation on the planet will ruin their economy to manipulate CO2, only the US is that stupid! Fact 2: if every person in nation on earth up and died today, CO2 would go down 1/2 of 1%! CO2: is a naturally occurring, beneficial trace gas (0.7%) that we would die without. So why don’t we just come out and admit; we’ve been duped by the enviro-kooks and the Useless Nitwits at the UN. Shmucks, all of you True Believers.

  55. What gets me about the China enthusiasts is the non-recognition that 30-60% of Chinese GDP is based on bad debts in the commercial and industrial sector due to crony capitalist loans and insolvent companies that don’t have to pay back their loans. Their Non-Performing Loan venue was far, far higher than that of the US with regards to the residential sector, and still *is*. And when China closes a few factories, lays-off 2 million people and the interior economy has little money to hand out due to bad debt, something is going to give.

    It is the largest bubble economy on the planet and it is starting to deflate and they are trying to pump it up and finding its size to be a problem. Those that migrated from poor rural areas for crowded and often toxic urban areas now have little money and face heavy competition for jobs amongst their peers, not from poor rural folks coming in to take jobs. That State led economy is no great boon in a global downturn. So I’m looking to see China to be, in a century, where it was a century ago: the #2 economy in the world due to size, but still having poverty as its basis. That will stay until they change from authoritarian government trying to control the banking system… strange we want to copy that.

  56. As the fall of Communism was heralded by jubilant mobs tearing down statues of Lenin, might the fall of Ecotopianism be celebrated by toppling windmills, smashing solar panels, and not recycling their remains?

  57. What we have here is an administration chock-full of overeducated morons.

    I can only hope that the Chus and the Holdrens fall flat on their faces, and that their dream of a utopia where an all-seeing benevolent Fatherland engineers a perfect future for all of us, free of the pernicious influences of industry, collapses in a heap of derision.

    Am I putting too much faith in the ability of the American public to see through these clowns’ nonsense?

  58. Most of the nations green organizations sent a letter to Washington DC requesting that any new transmision lines only carry renewable power, and no new coal fired power plants be built, and the present operating oes be closed along with the active nuclear generating plants. When i think Green I see Bilious.

  59. Meanwhile, I’m amassing a stockpile of incandescent light bulbs.

  60. get a life!!!

  61. howdy global warming is intense!!!

  62. i know dat bitch dat wrote that comment its me!!!!!!!!

  63. hey dude wut are u doing tonight?

  64. im gettin clean if you know what i mean

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