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Prentice calls US climate bill ‘trade protectionism’

The Canadian Press reports that, “Imposing tariffs (known as border carbon adjustments) on imports from countries that allow greater greenhouse gas emissions than the United States will jeopardize trade and prosperity, Canada’s environment minister warned on Wednesday as congressional leaders debate a bill that includes such measures.”
Environment Minister Jim Prentice told a Council of Americas conference that, “They would constitute arbitrary discrimination. They won’t work and they threaten constructive negotiations…trade protectionism in the name of environmental protection would be a prescription for disaster for both the global economy and the global environment. (They amount to) a thinly disguised restriction on trade and an impediment both to wealth creation and to the attainment of our collective objective, which is to address greenhouse gas emissions and to reduce them.”

The article continues, “Energy Secretary Stephen Chu suggested this winter that the U.S. wouldn’t rule out using tariffs and other trade barriers to pressure other countries, especially India and China, to cut back on emissions.”

(But) “Ron Kirk, the top U.S. trade representative, recently provided some hope for the Conservative government – he downplayed the notion that President Barack Obama’s administration would implement the carbon border tax on imports. Kirk penned a letter to a group of congressional Republicans, assuring them that the Obama administration’s energy and climate policies will not violate the country’s international trade obligations.”

The article also notes, “Recent complaints from Ottawa that California’s low carbon fuel standards unfairly discriminated against Alberta’s controversial tarsands fell on deaf ears.” You can read more about that situation in an April 25 campaign blog at http://canadians.org/campaignblog/?p=392

The full Canadian Press news article is at http://cnews.canoe.ca/CNEWS/Environment/2009/05/13/9448611-cp.html