I remember a couple of discussions, around the time of the Bali conference, where I floated the idea that Canada could take leadership on the issue, and if our commitment was sincere, this would allow us the moral high ground to implement a tax on imported goods, from countries which didn't "share" the load. In this way, you could negate the costs associated with our "unilateral" implementation.
Needless to say, I was very pleased to see this idea put forward today:
Manufacturers that have relocated to China may soon be coming home if the Western world imposes a “carbon tariff” on countries that spew greenhouse gas emissions, according to Jeff Rubin, chief strategist and economist at CIBC World Markets.
Given the increasing emissions imbalance between the developed world and countries such as China, Mr. Rubin said the “only leverage is through trade access,” specifically a “carbon tariff.” Mr. Rubin predicted such a tariff, based on $45 per tonne of carbon dioxide or equivalent, would be $55-billion annually, a 17-per cent levy on all Chinese imports to the U.S. — almost six times greater than the effective current import tariffs.
“Without such a tariff, the earnest efforts of [developed] countries to decarbonize their own economies would become absurdly quixotic in the face of the avalanche of emissions that will come from the rest of the world.”
Rubin argues that such a tariff would cause industry to "return home", but such a measure would also pressure other countries to implement a parallel fight against carbon. If, for example, the Chinese came on board and pledged to meet international standards, then you could have exceptions, there is now economic incentive to move.
If people like John Baird are really serious (cough), then they should embrace this idea and use it to achieve a binding, effective, international framework. At the very least, the opposition parties should jump all over this suggestion. What Rubin demonstrates, countries have leverage if they take measures, it isn't the doomsday nonsense, used to mask political inaction.