Thursday, July 24, 2008

Contradictions Much?

I'm reading this predictable editorial board piece in the National Post, essentially slamming Dion's idea of a carbon tariff. The piece is really a study in contradiction, first arguing that the Green Shift is toothless without a tariff, then attacking Dion for proposing what the board argues is required.

First, this point:
In other words, the Green Shift is likely to be a farce unless it is accompanied by some form of protectionism that prevents the replacement of relatively carbon-clean Canadian goods by dirty foreign ones.

The NP editorial board acknowledges that this is the other shoe to drop in this entire conversation, if the Green Shift is too actually succeed. But, then the NP contorts to criticize that which they view as logical:
It would be a shame if we responded by placing control of our foreign policy in the hands of an economic masochist who is not even content to wait for American political action before he tries to impose what he bizarrely imagines to be American environmental values — so like his own! — on Canadian businesses and taxpayers.

Following the tortured logic here, the NP seems to be arguing that Dion is wrong to make assumptions about what the Americans will ultimately do, there is no advantage in going "first", until we see how things shakeout stateside. First off, what Dion is saying is no different than what the Americans are starting to say, it is all theoretical at the moment, last time I checked the Liberals aren't in power, and beyond that we still would have 4 years of plan implementation. A carbon tariff is a distant idea, and everyone knows it, but Dion is merely reacting to an emerging reality, getting ahead of the curve, unless of course the American Congress is an empty vessel:
New York: The US Senate has passed a legislative amendment recommending imposition of carbon tariff on goods imported into the United States from countries like India and China, which do not have an effective emission program on the lines desired by the US.

Sponsored by Senator Barbara Boxer (D-Calif) and carrying bipartisan support, the Boxer amendment to the budget resolution was passed by Senate 54 votes to 41 last week.

Boxer said: “And when those imports come in at our ports, if those countries seeking entry into our country do not have equivalent programs, then they will have to get the allowances at the border in order to bring those goods into the country.”

Another example:
Buried within the 1000+ page Warner-Lieberman climate change act is a provision for something called “international reserve allowances” and what is quickly being dubbed a “Carbon Tariff.” Essentially the provision applies a cross-border, per ton, carbon tax on imported goods that are manufactured in countries that do not have limits on carbon emissions. If an item creates 2 tons of carbon dioxide in its manufacture and a 1 ton carbon credit trades for $30 - then the tariff would be $60 on that item.

How dare Dion process a growing sentiment, incorporate that idea into future plans. What nonsense for the NP to attack Dion on this angle, when in fact the idea is real and currently being debated by some of the most influential legislators in America. Shorter NP, hey Dion cut out the forethought, vision is a dangerous animal.

And, it isn't just the Americans, the discussion is more advanced in Europe:
LONDON (Reuters) - The European Commission is debating whether to push for a carbon tariff on imports from countries that do not tackle their greenhouse gas emissions, as part of climate change proposals due out this month.

Supporters of the measure say it would level the playing field for European companies facing tougher domestic emissions penalties. The new rules would be part of a raft of post-2012 proposals covering issues including national emissions targets and clean energy subsidies.

The NP spends the first portion of the article outlining why something would have to be done on the import side, then heaps scorn on Dion for addressing that point. The article is rife with logical inconsistency, which speaks to a politically motivated thesis, rather an a consistent argument. Somewhere a puppy awaits his training reading material. Let's hope it's a soaker.


ottlib said...

Stephane Dion does seem to be ahead of the curve on this doesn't he?

The NP is one of those news organizations that have been bleating that Canada cannot take measures to reduce ghg emissions until countries like China and India do so.

China and India have been reluctant to say the least so imposing carbon tariffs may be a way to give them some incentives to overcome that reluctance.

You would think the NP would find some part of that agreeable.

As well, we are entering harder economic times, when protectionism usually becomes more politically popular, so Mr. Dion could be putting himself into a very good position.

The economic conservative in me really does not like protectionism but the environmentalist in me likes the idea of carbon tariffs to nudge reluctant countries to reduce their ghg emissions. The only thing we need to do is be certain that these carbon tariffs are well targeted and they are not used as an excuse for more general protectionism. That would not do anybody any good.

Frankly Canadian said...

Does the National post not understand that these type of articles dilute not only the credibility of the journalist but the newspaper itself as well.

RuralSandi said...

Hey, you're talking the National Post here who's main purpose is to promote neo-conservatism and bash everything else.

I don't take heed to what the Natty Post says at fact, I don't bother reading it.

Steve V said...

"China and India have been reluctant to say the least so imposing carbon tariffs may be a way to give them some incentives to overcome that reluctance."

I don't think it ever has to come to implementation. First, you actually lead, then you work with like minded nations and begin the real threat of carbon tariffs, which will provide the necessary leverage to get reluctant countries on board. Right now, emerging economies can rightfully tell us to get our own house in order first, once we speak to that, then we can come to the table with alternatives. Establish credibility, then find allies, then apply pressure. I see a carbon tariff as more of a negotiating tactic in the final analysis.

Frankly Canadian said...

Good comment Steve, if we do this the right way the world will work together and I agree, the incentive needs to be there.