Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Indian Environment Minister Criticizes U.S. "Carbon Tariff" Plan

Jairam Ramesh, India's environment minister, yesterday said his government rejected the inclusion of a "carbon tariff" in the Waxman-Markey energy bill.

A last minute provision added to the bill allows the U.S. to impose tariffs on goods entering the country from other countries that have not enacted carbon emissions reduction legislation.

Mr. Ramesh described the provision as "pernicious" adding, "We reject the use of climate as a non-tariff barrier," the Financial Times reported ("India Attacks US Carbon Tariff Plan," July 1, 2009). He also said, "We categorically reject any attempt to introduce climate change as an issue at the [World Trade Organization]."

Climate change negotiations between developed and developing countries are almost certain to be difficult in the run-up to the U.N. climate change meeting in Copenhagen in December. India's government is particularly sensitive to the desire by developed countries to limit the growth of carbon emissions, viewing it as a means of actually stalling Indian economic growth.

"India has not polluted. We are bearing the brunt of global climate change caused by the developed countries and we are being asked to curb emissions. I find this ludicrous," Mr. Ramesh said.

A footnote to the U.S. carbon tariff provision: when French President Nicholas Zarkozy suggested that the EU should adopt a similar measure for goods coming into the EU from countries not addressing climate change, the bellyaching in Washington could be heard all the way to the Elysee Palace in Paris. Apparently, what's good for the goose (in this case the U.S.) is not always good for the gander.

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