Climate Wars: Nick Stern Threatens U.S. With Trade Boycott
The United States will be banned from selling goods to many countries if it continues to shirk its promise to cut greenhouse gas emissions, according to the world’s leading climate change economist.
In an interview with The Times, Lord Stern of Brentford said that nations that were taking strong action on emissions could start imposing restrictions on “dirty” US exports by 2020.
Lord Stern, who advises several G20 leaders and is one of the key players in the international negotiations seeking a deal on emissions, made his comments ten days before the annual United Nations climate change conference opens in Cancun, Mexico. They reflect the feeling in many countries that a lack of action on emissions in the US is delaying progress in the talks.
Lord Stern said that Europe and the Far East (sic) were forging ahead of the US in controlling emissions and switching to low carbon sources of energy. They would not tolerate having their industries undermined by American competitors that had not paid for their emissions. “If you are charging properly for carbon and other people are not, you will take that into account,” he said. “Many of the more forward-looking people in the US are thinking about this. If they see a danger on the trade front to US exports that could influence public discussion.”
Asked what type of US products could face restrictions, Lord Stern said: “Aircraft, clearly, some cars, machine tools — it’s not simply what’s in the capital good, it’s what kind of processes the capital good is facilitating.”
Lord Stern said that a complete ban on some goods was also possible. He said the American people should overcome their historical antipathy to taxation and accept that emissions needed to be controlled either through a tax or a trading scheme.