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Policy Brief

Can border carbon taxes fit into the global trade regime?

This Policy Brief highlights some weaknesses in the standard argumentation for BCAs. But there is an alternative argument for border carbon measures, based on the fact that countries expose each other to climate externalities.

By: and Date: December 9, 2013 Topic: Energy & Climate

One complement to domestic climate policies could be the regulation of carbon dioxide emissions arising during the production of imported products. Such ‘border carbon adjustments’ (BCAs) are said to have several benefits, but are also severely criticised. This Policy Brief highlights some weaknesses in the standard argumentation for BCAs. But there is an alternative argument for border carbon measures, based on the fact that countries expose each other to climate externalities. The reformulated argument is economically more convincing, and provides a more convincing justification for the extraterritorial feature of border carbon measures. However, there are also several important factors mitigating against the implementation of such measures, including the risk that these measures will be used for protectionism.

If BCAs are to gain international acceptance, they must be motivated by clear, economically-sound arguments, but the reasons normally put forward do not seem to persuade critics. For instance, the European Union still needs to convince the world about the appropriateness of the extraterritorial features of the extension of its emissions trading system to aviation. To gain international acceptance, an understanding is needed of the use and design of border carbon measures, perhaps under the auspices of the World Trade Organisation. It might also be preferable to renegotiate tariffs in the WTO for the most polluting goods, rather than to allow countries to impose unilateral border measures.

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Opinion

Why China should fear the EU's carbon border tax

Expect Beijing to soon start lobbying against the proposal.

By: Alicia García-Herrero Topic: Energy & Climate, Global Economics & Governance Date: July 26, 2021
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External Publication

A Safety Net for the Green Economy

How to protect workers hurt by the fight against climate change.

By: Simone Tagliapietra Topic: Energy & Climate Date: July 20, 2021
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Blog Post

The European Union’s carbon border mechanism and the WTO

To avoid any backlash, the European Union should work with other World Trade Organisation members to define basic principles of carbon border adjustment mechanisms.

By: André Sapir Topic: Energy & Climate, Global Economics & Governance Date: July 19, 2021
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Blog Post

Making sure green household investment pays off

Policies are needed to support green fuel switching by households; support should be phased out as the carbon price rises.

By: Ben McWilliams and Georg Zachmann Topic: Energy & Climate Date: July 19, 2021
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Upcoming Event

Sep
2
10:15

The role of the state in providing infrastructure for decarbonisation

Bruegel Annual Meetings, Day 2 - Who should be responsible for providing crucial infrastructure for decarbonisation and how should it be managed?

Speakers: Jean-Bernard Lévy, Diederik Samsom, Simone Tagliapietra, Laurence Tubiana and Georg Zachmann Topic: Energy & Climate Location: Palais des Academies, Rue Ducale 1
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Opinion

‘Fit-for-55’ package: Squaring the circle

The European Union finds itself at the centre of a three-dimensional puzzle. Burdens need to be shared between 450 million citizens, 25 million businesses and EU countries in a way that is acceptable to enough of them.

By: Georg Zachmann Topic: Energy & Climate Date: July 15, 2021
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Blog Post

Fit for 55 marks Europe’s climate moment of truth

With Fit for 55, Europe is the global first mover in turning a long-term net-zero goal into real-world policies, marking the entry of climate policy into the daily life of all citizens and businesses.

By: Simone Tagliapietra Topic: Energy & Climate, European Macroeconomics & Governance Date: July 14, 2021
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Past Event

Past Event

Ensuring competitiveness of low-carbon investments

At this event, speakers will introduce the core idea of commercialisation contracts, and then discuss key design elements. This includes whether contracts should be issued at the EU or national level, how competition for contracts should be organised, and which industries should be eligible for support.

Speakers: Natalia Fabra, Peter Handley, Ben McWilliams and Georg Zachmann Topic: Energy & Climate, European Macroeconomics & Governance Date: July 1, 2021
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Opinion

Climate change and lifestyle choices

Do we need drastic changes in our lifestyles so that we can meet our climate ambitions by 2050?

By: Maria Demertzis Topic: Energy & Climate Date: June 9, 2021
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Blog Post

For the climate, Asia-Pacific must phase out fossil-fuel subsidies

An exit from coal in the Asia-Pacific region is a global decarbonisation priority.

By: Alicia García-Herrero and Simone Tagliapietra Topic: Energy & Climate, Global Economics & Governance Date: May 31, 2021
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Blog Post

China has a grand carbon neutrality target but where is the plan?

China’s new long-term targets, to reach peak emissions before 2030 and achieve carbon neutrality by 2060, are yet to be matched with a consistent short-term action plan.

By: Alicia García-Herrero and Simone Tagliapietra Topic: Energy & Climate Date: April 14, 2021
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Blog Post

How to extend carbon pricing beyond the comfort zone

Rapid emission cuts need a carbon price for the whole economy. This must be introduced in careful stages. 

By: Georg Zachmann Topic: Energy & Climate Date: April 1, 2021
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