“The Debate Over Carbon Tariffs: Balancing Environmental Protection and Fair Trade Practices”


Point/Counterpoint – – – Should Carbon Tariffs Be Imposed Upon Greenhouse Gas Producing Traded Goods?
Read the passage and answer all parts of the “What do you think?” box located at the end of the reading. Upload a five-paragraph essay with your response. APA formatting should be followed, and a references page should be included for your web sources (a minimum of two). 
(What do you think box)
Which viewpoint do you support, and why? Use the Internet to learn more about this issue and come up with your own argument.
In the aggregate, China is the world’s largest emitter of greenhouse gases, primarily carbon dioxide, while the United States is the largest emitter of carbon dioxide on a per capita basis. The countries of the European Union fall somewhere in between. To control global warming and climate change, there has been a worldwide movement to regulate greenhouse gases caused by energy-intensive industries, such as in the manufacture of aluminum and other metals, paper, chemicals, and cement. The question is: Will the imposition of “carbon tariffs” (i.e., dollars per ton of carbon dioxide emitted by, for instance, aluminum production) in a particular country lead to unfair competition?
Point If an agreement can be reached on a global basis without exceptions, a WTO-negotiated carbon tariff could lead to a reduction in worldwide demand for carbon dioxide–intensive materials as well as a move from coal-fired power plants to greener alternative-energy sources for electric power. Carbon tariffs could also lead to greater investment in research and development to conserve energy and to find more efficient ways in the manufacturing process to minimize greenhouse gas emissions. The key issue here is the following: Do we hang together to drastically cut greenhouse gas emission and save our planet, or do we want to hang separately for our environmental policy inaction and destroy our respective countries?
Counterpoint By imposing a carbon tariff on the exports of greenhouse gas–emitting industries, one would be exposing these firms to unfair competition from those that do not emit carbon dioxide. Also, the output of these industries (steel, paper, cement, etc.) is so basic (inelastic) for life that the net reduction in their demand may not have much impact on greenhouse gas emissions. Finally, a carbon tariff may be hard to implement. Customs officials would either need to assess the emissions embedded in imports or make arbitrary assumptions—the latter being a recipe for trade war.



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