¿El comercio de derechos de emisión incitará al proteccionismo?

CAMBRIDGE ­– Existe un serio peligro de que la adopción internacional de legislación sobre comercio de derechos de emisión para limitar las emisiones de dióxido de carbono desate una nueva ronda de medidas proteccionistas. Si bien apuntan a reducir el daño ambiental a largo plazo, las políticas de comercio de derechos de emisión podrían generar importantes efectos económicos nocivos en el corto plazo que se perpetuarían en el futuro.

La evidencia científica parece indicar que la acumulación de CO2 en la atmósfera como consecuencia de la incineración de combustibles fósiles (principalmente carbón, petróleo y gas natural) -sobre todo en producción de electricidad, transporte y varios procesos industriales- contribuye a un calentamiento global gradual, con efectos adversos a largo plazo en las condiciones de vida en todo el mundo. Con esto en mente se programó un encuentro de los representantes de más de 150 países en Copenhague en diciembre para discutir las maneras de reducir las emisiones de CO2.

Una sugerencia común es imponer un impuesto a todas las emisiones de CO2, que se les cobraría a las empresas que emiten CO2 en la producción, o que venden productos como gasolina que causan emisiones de CO2 cuando se los utiliza. Un impuesto de esta naturaleza haría que las empresas de electricidad y las firmas industriales adoptaran técnicas para reducir sus emisiones de CO2, siempre que el costo de hacerlo fuera inferior al impuesto que, de otra manera, tendrían que pagar.

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