PM urged to support ‘border carbon tax’ to protect UK businesses from China
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Boris Johnson should introduce a “border carbon tax” to protect British companies from polluting competitors like China, ex-secretary for international trade Liam Fox urged.
Right-winger Fox’s intervention raised hope among environmentalists that a growing Tory consensus will persuade the PM to push the plan forward ahead of Britain’s presidency of the COP26 climate talks this year.
The Treasury is currently working on the detail of the border tax, which would impose an additional tariff on imports produced in countries with high greenhouse gas emissions, and insiders told HuffPost UK that the Prime Minister was ” very open ”to the idea.
Fox, a traditional Thatcherite, will be joined by Johnson’s father Stanley, a longtime environmental activist, as he delivers a speech calling for a new decision at the Center for Policy Studies think tank on Thursday.
US climate envoy John Kerry recently said Joe Biden was “interested in assessing the border adjustment mechanism” and that the EU is already planning a carbon tax on imports.
As the UK prepares to chair the G7 summit of major industrial nations this summer as well as the climate talks in Glasgow in November, Fox said it was an “opportunity not only to chair but to lead. “.
“There is no point in damaging the competitiveness of economies like the UK while other countries maintain their competitive advantage at the expense of the global climate,” he said.
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Britain has a statutory goal of achieving net zero emissions by 2050 and last week launched a nationwide emissions trading scheme that charges power stations, factories and airlines for every tonne of carbon dioxide they emit.
But the UK and EU’s strong commitment to reducing greenhouse gases has led to a surge in the ‘carbon price’ of their respective emissions trading systems, leaving their companies to pay. more than in other states.
Countries like China and India fear that a border tax is simply a way for richer countries to try to keep their goods out.
But Fox said the UK could team up with America and Europe to design a system that helps the planet while protecting the poorest countries.
The impact on developing countries could be offset by Britain using its aid budget to invest in green energy projects, he said.
“As a passionate free trader, I have fought against the broader consequences of implementing a fiscal policy on the carbon frontier. But, as I have said many times as Secretary of International Trade, free trade does not mean free trade, ”Fox said.
He added, “China is likely to comply with a carbon tax at the border, even unintentionally, especially if there is close cooperation and coordination among the Western countries that apply it.”