A libertarian response to global warming

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Part 2: Diplomacy

Only 25% of all anthropogenic CO2 emissions come from the US, so attaching liability to only domestic sources would not affect most producers. It would also put US industry at a disadvantage. They would have to pay for litigation claims and insurance, while overseas companies would not.

Obviously, if US courts award damages that must be paid according to the amount of carbon emitted, then foreign companies would have to pay three quarters of these fines. As long as they do so, then the system will work. But if foreign companies refuse to pay, some sort of enforcement mechanism is necessary. The best way to do this would be to simply slap a carbon tariff on all good from uncooperative countries. This would be an import tax, scaled to the amount of carbon-based energy used in the delivery of the goods or services being imported, levied on all imports from the non-cooperative country. If that country chooses not to sell anything to the USA, then this system will not work. But seriously, when’s the last time that happened? I don’t think that North Korea’s industrial base is going to melt Greenland.

As for treaty-making, and global tree-hugging sit-its, they are irrelevant. If other countries want to reduce their carbon use, good for them. As long as they pay for the damage caused by any carbon they do use, they can do whatever they want.


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