High-carbon goods imported into the UK should be subject to new tariffs, MPs say | Emissions of greenhouse gases

High-carbon goods imported into the UK should be subject to new tariffs, to help ensure other countries meet their obligations to reach net-zero greenhouse gas emissions, as well as the UK, an influential committee has said. of parliamentarians.

TO carbon border adjustment mechanism (CBAM) would penalize companies and countries that try to evade responsibility for reducing emissions, MPs said, and provide an incentive for certain industrial sectors to move away from environmentally harmful practices.

Philip Dunne, the committee’s Conservative chairman, said such a move was needed to reach net zero: “The targets, timetables and overall strategy for reaching net zero have been set: work must now be accelerated to make the ambitions a reality.” . ”

For some industries, such as steel, moving to the greener production methods needed to bring the UK’s emissions down in line with the goal of net-zero emissions by 2050 may incur short-term costs in new equipment and techniques.

But if rivals in other countries fail to take such steps and continue to use fossil fuels and emit vast amounts of carbon, their products could be cheaper and undermine the UK, leaving British industry at a serious disadvantage.

This is known as carbon leakage, as greener industries in the domestic market lose out and carbon is emitted abroad.

a CBAM could level the playing fieldby imposing tariffs or taxes on imports of such products, and has broad support among many economists, as long as it can be used to attack specific products and practices rather than being used as a protectionist measure to keep out products from developing countries in particular.

Parliamentarians’ environmental audit committee called on ministers to act unilaterally in establishing such a tax. the EU is considering imposing CBAMand the US government has also indicated could be open to such measures in the future.

Treasury is it is understood that they are wary of imposing CBAM, as they could increase the price of some goods at a time when consumers are already facing a cost-of-living crisis. There are also fears in the government that implementing a CBAM now would delay ministers’ attempts to forge post-Brexit trade deals around the world.

But Dunne said MPs had considered these points carefully. “Our committee is clear that the pros of a CBAM outweigh the cons,” she said. “For too long, our consumer emissions have been effectively ‘delocalized’, leaving the problem out of sight and out of mind. But we all need to take more responsibility for our consumption and the practices our companies and organizations adopt.”

The UK is chair of the UN climate talks for most of the rest of this year, having hosted the Cop26 climate summit in Glasgow last November. That puts the government in a powerful position to pioneer CBAMs, which have been widely discussed for years but not put into practice.

Dunne added that the government must consult with business at all stages: “Our committee is under no illusions that this will be a difficult policy to get right, with a clear advantage to moving multilaterally with other trading partners and therefore all companies must have a voice in the discussions, and the government must be frank with its intentions”.

A Treasury spokesman said: “The UK is at the forefront of the transition to net-zero emissions, has cut emissions faster than any other G20 country and continues to have the most ambitious climate targets for 2030.

“As we transition to net zero, we recognize the importance of continuing to address the risk of carbon leakage to ensure our ambitious decarbonisation policy is not undermined.

“This is a global problem, so we are working with our international partners to address this and other climate challenges, as well as explore national options.”

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