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China: Consuming Nations Should Pay for China’s Carbon Emissions

china-flag2Consumers in the United States, Europe and elsewhere should pay for carbon emissions spewed out by Chinese factories, or so says China’s top climate negotiator, according to The Guardian.

China’s position, laid out by Li Gao, could present a stumbling block for the Obama Administration in advance the next round of UN climate change talks, set for December in Copenhagen. Gao is on China’s powerful National Development and Reform Commission.

Most observers agree that for the international accord to have meaning, China and the United States have to come to an agreement. China in 2006 became the world’s biggest emitter of carbon dioxide, and it remains heavily reliant on coal.

“As one of the developing countries, we are at the low end of the production line for the global economy,” Li said. “We produce products and these products are consumed by other countries… This share of emissions should be taken by the consumers, not the producers.”

Li said up to 25% of  China’s global warming emissions were the result of exports.

One observer says China’s position is a “logical extension of the polluter-pays principle.”

A former White House adviser has suggested the U.S. and China should hold a summit featuring an agreement on climate change.

While many countries are setting goals to reduce emissions, China predicts its GHG emissions could double by 2030.

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2 thoughts on “China: Consuming Nations Should Pay for China’s Carbon Emissions

  1. Fine, this is EASY. Slap all Chinese products with a “Carbon Premium”, just as the nice man suggests. This will make US products more competitively priced, help re-invigorate U.S. manufacturing, and help promote a cleaner world in the process. The best part? It’s not a tariff and nor is it protectionist in spirit and intent, as it does not penalize Chinese products per se, just the carbon intensity of those products. Therefore, China has an economic incentive to clean house. Plus, it has been suggested by the Chinese themselves, so they have no reason to complain.

  2. China is correct in suggesting that the West pay for the carbon emissions of the products it buys. Until the true costs of production, including resource extraction, carbon emissions, and disposal solutions, are incorporated into the goods we purchase, our economic system will not find a sustainable balance. Read more in my “We Should All Pay for Carbon Emissions” post.

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