Will Cap-and-Trade Incite Protectionism?

CAMBRIDGE ­– There is a serious danger that the international adoption of cap-and-trade legislation to limit carbon-dioxide emissions will trigger a new round of protectionist measures. While aimed at reducing long-term environmental damage, cap-and-trade policies could produce significant harmful economic effects in the near term that would continue into the future.

Scientific evidence appears to indicate that the accumulation of CO2 in the atmosphere from the burning of fossil fuels (primarily coal, oil, and natural gas) – mainly in electricity production, transportation, and various industrial processes – contributes to gradual global warming, with long-term adverse effects on living conditions around the world. It is with this in mind that representatives of more than 150 countries are scheduled to meet in Copenhagen in December to discuss ways to reduce CO2 emissions.