January 03, 2013

RIP Kyoto Treaty

The tower of a church is seen between the smoke-billowing
chimneys of the brown coal power plan Frimmersdorf
in Grevenbroich near Duesseldorf, Germany.
(Frank Augstein/Associated Press)/via CBC
Per a Canadian Broadcasting Corporation report, the Kyoto Treaty officially died with the end of 2012. And, as the recent Doha round of climate talks shows, we have little to replace it with.

It's arguable that if Bill Clinton (pre-Monica Lewinsky, too, but post-re-election) never had plans to submit the bill for Senate ratification even at the time the meetings in Kyoto started, he never should have inked his name, or made pledges he wasn't even going to try to deliver.

Second, it's too bad that, already then, Kyoto did lump all developing nations into one basket. Conservatives around the world are right to complain on this one — China is not the same as Botswana.

Third, it's also too bad that the old G-7, at that time, didn't already start talking about what mechanisms, in terns of tax, economic and other government policies, were most likely to work the best to obtain results.

Today, we know a simple, straightforward carbon tax is the answer. But, one moderate recession and one whopper semi-depression recession later, that's a much harder sell than 15 years ago.

And, with more economic muscle on its part, putting China in a separate basket from Botswana, per Point No. 2, is an almost impossible sell today.

That said, there is an answer for both, which I have mentioned more than once —

Carbon tariffs on imports.

As far as I understand the World Trade Organization, it allows such carbon tariffs as long as they're not steeper than carbon taxes.

There you go.

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