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New tariffs are not the answer to global climate challenges

As part of its recent Green Deal, the EU is planning to impose tariffs on those who do not meet its climate standards. The policy sounds logical—but it won’t work in practice

By Nick Butler  

The Commissioner for the European Green Deal Frans Timmermans has indicated support for carbon border tariffs. Photo: ALEXANDROS MICHAILIDIS / Alamy Stock Photo

Few policies could be more ill-designed to achieve their stated intentions than the proposal from the European Union to impose a Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism. In plain language, the CBAM means tariffs would be put on a yet-to-be-defined mixture of imported products from countries which do not meet the standards and ambitions set under the new European Green Deal proposals.

The European Commission aims to avert the greatest dangers posed by climate change. That is a laudable objective, but the means of achieving it must be realistic. Bad policy could make the situation worse, and increase the risk…

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