A view of Ilva di Taranto, one of the biggest steel mills in Europe Alfonso Di Vincenzo/KONTROLAB /LightRocket via Getty Images

A Climate-Friendly Response to Trump’s Protectionism

Rather than allowing itself to be dragged into Donald Trump’s destructive trade games, the European Union should turn them on their head, by introducing a CO2 levy, including border adjustment. Such a response would help protect the environment and boost the EU's own international clout.

BERLIN – As US President Donald Trump translates his “America First” strategy into import tariffs, and the European Union prepares to adopt countermeasures moving the global economy toward a trade standoff, the real challenge facing the two economies – indeed, the entire world – is being ignored. That challenge is to shape the global economy, including trade, so that it finally respects the planet’s natural boundaries.

Trump’s trade agenda is putting progressives into a paradoxical position. For many years, they have been denouncing the current trade system as both unjust and ecologically destructive. But in the face of Trump’s nationalist protectionism, with its echoes of the fatal mistakes of the 1930s, some feel obliged to defend the current system.

Neoliberal defenders of the status quo now see a political opportunity. Lumping progressives together with Trump as “protectionists,” they are denouncing the justified wide-ranging protests of civil society against mega-regional deals like the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) between the EU and Canada, and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) between the EU and the United States.

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