Former U.S. officials and foreign leaders are openly discussing ways to make Americans feel the pain for leaving the Paris climate accord.
Former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers said countries could impose a “border adjustment carbon tax,” or carbon tariff, to penalize U.S.exports for President Donald Trump’s decision to leave the Paris accord.
French ecological minister Nicolas Hulot agreed with the carbon tariff idea, echoing remarks made French President Nicolas Sarkozy during the country’s last election.
“We agree with that,” Hulot said at the “Climate Week” event in New York City on Monday, according to The New Republic. “The Paris agreement is not only a piece of paper where 170 states put their signature. It’s a promise to our children, and we cannot lie to our children.”
“We must always say the Paris agreement is negotiable and irreversible,” Hulot said. “That’s the first step.”
The Paris accord’s emissions targets are non-binding, but there’s an ongoing argument over whether the targets submitted by President Barack Obama can be revised. Trump could submit a lower pledge, but he can’t be punished for not meeting them.
At least not punished by the agreement.
The Paris accord relies on political pressure to keep countries on track to meet their pledges to fight global warming, but France wants to convince other Paris signatories to impose economic sanctions against countries that don’t go along.
“We are going to need a system where you are rewarded for cooperation, and penalized for not cooperating,” said Summers, who served as President Bill Clinton’s treasury secretary.
Calls for retaliatory carbon taxes come after the White House spent the weekend debunking reports they would not withdraw from the Paris climate accord.
The Wall Street Journal reported Saturday the Trump administration was laying the groundwork to remain in the Paris accord, which the Obama administration joined in 2016. The Journal cited a recent presentation Trump officials gave to foreign officials.
The White House rebuked WSJ’s report, calling it “fake news.” Trump promised to withdraw the U.S. from the Paris accord in June, leaving for the door open for renegotiation for terms more favorable to American workers.
“We are withdrawing, and we made that as clear as it can be. I don’t know how to say it any more clearly,” White House economic adviser Gary Cohn told energy ministers at a Monday meeting in New York City.
The WSJ walked back its reporting, but the speculation over Trump’s commitment to his campaign promise to leave the Paris accord.
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