Two takes on the same idea:
1. The U.S. could impose a carbon tariff on imported goods and
commodities produced at sub-U.S. standards for pollution and
carbon control. The amount of the tariff being the difference
between the cost of the item produced to U.S. standards and
the cost of production
in the exporting country at lesser or no
2. The tariff could be instead an enforcement mechanism from
the coming Paris 2015 accords: countries would be held to their
stated plans to reduce carbon emissions in the difference
mentioned in #1 above versus the actual carbon emitted in the
production of the export to the U.S.
In both #1 and #2, some adjustment can be made up or down
depending on the producing countries' own imports of the
supplies and materials from compliant or non-compliant
countries used in production of the export.
The approach in number two might be better than number one
as the latter risks isolating the U.S. from the world economy. It
is possible that the tariff idea should not be discussed at the
same conference as the participating countries' submitted plans.
The existence of the tariff might spur a worse "race to bottom"
in national plan standards than is currently anticipated in the
developed vs. undeveloped economies debate.
What to do with the proceeds of this tariff? To keep the money
in the U.S. we could, a.) lower other taxes (this accomplishes
nothing really but may be tempting); b.) either finance the
active removal of CO2 from the air, or reduce our own carbon
emissions of U.S. industry via loans or grants or tax credits.
We could instead use the money for foreign aid specifically to
reduce carbon (and maybe other pollution) setting up an
account for each country based on its exports to the U.S. The
foreign aid concept could possibly be a vehicle to finance
emissions abatement in other countries. That might in turn
finance U.S. exports of controls and more efficient industrial
goods much as U.S. aid sometimes must be spent on U.S.
products and foodstuffs. In any event, the aid would certainly
be counted as partial fulfillment of any wealth redistribution as
called for by the developing world.
Either of the approaches of the last two paragraphs could be
utilized depending on the level of cooperation the U.S. gets
from each trading partner country.
It certainly would call for quite a bureaucracy and verification
apparatus. It was learned recently that China was massively
understating its carbon emissions (possibly coming clean in order
to add it to its own limits in the coming conference). Would the
plan create a death spiral for world trade in the manner of
tariffs being raised by governments during the 1930s Great
Depression? The current multinational trade agreements
structure would have to be rejiggered to conform with this