acemoglu50_Lukas SchulzeGetty Images_carbon emissions tax Lukas Schulze/Getty Images

Environmental Tariffs Could Be a Game Changer

Without rapid reductions in global greenhouse-gas emissions, the effects of climate change will continue to worsen, posing an acute risk to human civilization. In the absence of effective multilateral frameworks, it is necessary to increase the costs of emissions unilaterally through other means.

BOSTON – Environmental tariffs may be humanity’s last hope for mitigating climate change, which is on course to become increasingly devastating if we do not curb our greenhouse-gas (GHG) emissions.

The most straightforward way to confront this unprecedented global threat is through a multilateral agreement that locks in a “green transition” in all (or most) countries. The key is to boost renewable-energy production while significantly reducing fossil-fuel consumption, a process that calls for coordinated policies on three fronts: regulation, subsidies for cleaner technologies (including renewables), and carbon taxes.

Unfortunately, this type of global agreement seems out of reach, both because the fossil-fuel industry remains politically powerful, and because some of the world’s biggest emitters – including the United States, China, and India – are not adopting the necessary policies.