Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Now We're Talking

In my mind, this is the endgame to the entire debate, what might get Dion's plan over the hump with a sceptical public, which speaks to a process which addresses this issue in totality. You make the commitment, then you can actually "lead the world", voluntarily or kicking and screaming:
Dion touts tariffs on countries that are ‘free-riders'

Liberal Leader St├ęphane Dion said Wednesday he would impose tariffs on imports from countries that Canada deems are not doing enough in the battle against global warming.

Mr. Dion's office said later that countries that have capped industrial emissions of greenhouse gases or who have imposed domestic carbon taxes would be exempt from the Liberal import tax, as would poor nations.

Trade expert Michael Hart of Carleton University's Centre for Trade Policy and Law dismissed Mr. Dion's carbon tariff comments as “bafflegab.” He predicted other nations would be furious with Canada.

“They'd quickly come to Ottawa and say ‘What the hell are you doing? Who came up with this crazy scheme?'” Prof. Hart said. “The environmentalists would all scream ‘the environment ueber alles [above everything else]!' [but] that's not enshrined in any trade agreement.”...

“I want Canada to be able to say ‘We are doing carbon pricing, are you?' And then, instead of being vulnerable, we'll be in a situation to protect ourselves,” he said.

To the professors "furious" comments, important to keep in mind that the idea of carbon tariffs are already being considered in Europe, namely the French and the idea has support with American politicians. As this process moves forward, countries that are making a sacrifice will begin to use that as leverage and, at the very least, the real threats will lead to concessions.

Future detail aside, politically, Dion introducing this idea says to Canadians that the Liberals will not put the country at a permanent economic disadvantage, this plan doesn't translate to unilateral suicide. I've commented on this idea before, but there is a school of thought which sees carbon tariffs as a future way to offset manufacturing flight, a economic disincentive.

In the now, the idea could be a bit issue within the entire scheme, but I find it attractive because it demonstrates a ultimate vision, it lays out a path to actually address the big picture.

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

Sorry this was already tried before with disastrous results.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Smoot-Hawley_Tariff

Not that that would ever stop a politician. They just see this as another form of revenue.

Steve V said...

anon

You chuck me a link to something 80 years ago?? Good one man. I think the Incas tried this once too, and look what happened to them. Next.

Mushroom said...

Can we talk about the Tobin tax too? If yes to carbon tariffs, then you have to say yes to this tax.

This would be the final death blow to Layton's populism. The Grits finally comes home after twenty-four years in the wilderness (sorry, we need to put Chretien-Martin, Mulroney, and Harper into the dustbin of history all at once).

Deb Prothero said...

Well, Obama's already talking about doing this so if we don't have a carbon tax, we'll be shipping money down there in the form of a carbon tax and paying more for their products.

Stephane Dion's plan will at least leave the money in Canada to use for innovation and fairness.

Anonymous said...

Did you mean to say that tariffs on goods from countries like China and India is now a good thing?

Wasn't Dion in Bali telling everyone that it would be wrong to make those countries participate in CO2 reductions, and now he wants to punish those very same countries with tariffs for not having CO2 reductions?

JimBobby said...

Whooee! Obama and McSame have both vowed to take action on climate change. Americans, particularly Congress, are vehemently protectionist. Climate change action in the US will be impossible to pass without a carbon tariff to protect US interests from free riders.

Like Steve said, the EU is already working on applying tariffs on products like steel from India. Nobody who has been paying attention will be asking the dumbass questions Prof. Hart suggests.

JB

Ivan said...

Actually in the WTO and NAFTA, as long as the tariffs you're applying are equally applied to domestically made goods, then there is no basis for argument...

Seriously, where did they dig this trade fossil up from?