Sen. Mitt Romney deserves credit for pointing out the best strategy to crack down on China’s carbon pollution: charge imports for their emissions. This is “one way to get China to have its mind concentrated” on cutting emissions, as he put it at a recent event.
We all know that China is flooding our market with cheap goods made with high emissions. What’s less appreciated is just how much cleaner American industry is by comparison: Our manufacturers generate only a third of the emissions of Chinese producers and they are far cleaner than most of our trading partners.
U.S. manufacturers are doing the right thing, and yet we keep swinging the door wide open for high-polluting competitors to enter our market. With a border carbon tax in place, “if China is exporting into the U.S. products that have a very high quotient of emissions, that’s going to come at a very high price,” Romney said.
On Day 1 of a border carbon tax, our manufacturers would gain an edge over their high-polluting foreign competition. And China would start rethinking its polluting ways. As Romney pointed out, “We can negotiate with the Chinese — or we can simply have a border adjustment tax that recognizes that they put a lot more pollution in the air.” It seems to me that the latter is more likely to work.