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Page added on December 29, 2009

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Economists Warn of a Climate Trade War

John Kerry was on a roll. At the Copenhagen climate summit, the former US presidential candidate delivered a fiery speech that was mostly directed at China. If the US has to accept binding targets for reducing their greenhouse gas emissions, then Beijing must do the same, Kerry told his audience. Workers in the US should not “lose their jobs to India and China because those countries are not participating in a way that is measurable, reportable and verifiable,” he said.

This was an expression of the old fear in industrialized countries that aggressive action on climate change could lead to local economic disadvantages. Environmentalist politicians and academics have long been calling for the establishment of a global emissions trade. It is a simple and captivating idea for many: Each state gets a certain amount of CO2 allowances. Those who want to emit more must buy emissions rights from other countries that emit less CO2. Ideally, poorer countries would automatically make money, and rich countries would at the same time have a financial incentive to reduce their CO2 emissions.

BusinessWeek



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