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30 May 2022, 13:56
Benjamin Wehrmann

EU carbon border tariff could push countries to step up climate action – foreign office

Der Tagesspiegel / Clean Energy Wire

The German foreign ministry’s special envoy for international climate action, former Greenpeace head Jennifer Morgan, has said she supports the idea of higher import tariffs in the EU for products with large carbon footprints. “If other countries refuse to pursue an ambitious climate action policy, they will have to pay for that,” Morgan told newspaper Der Tagesspiegel, adding that she “wholeheartedly” stands behind EU plans to introduce carbon tariffs on imported products like steel. She said a fundamental weakness of the Paris Climate Agreement is the lack of enforcement mechanisms, a shortcoming that more ambitious countries could address by other economic instruments. “An external CO2 tariff by the EU could motivate states around the world to step up their climate efforts and at the same time protect our own economies.” The U.S.-born climate envoy said Germany would work closely with the USA on finding a joint mechanism with the EU. Morgan said her change of roles to become a member of the government did not change her line of work or "the side" she is on. "I still consider myself an activist – now an activist diplomat,” the former NGO leader said. She argued climate action is no longer be a “niche topic” but rather a question of national security that concerns everyone.

The European Commission has proposed to introduce a carbon border adjustment mechanism – a so-called CBAM. This would mean putting a CO₂ price on imported goods depending on the greenhouse gas emissions produced along their value chain and on possible carbon prices paid already. The carbon adjustment price would reflect the carbon cost if the product had been made domestically. EU member states and the European Parliament are currently discussing the proposal.

Morgan’s boss, foreign minister Annalena Baerbock of the Green Party, said the next months would be filled with difficult negotiations about climate action in international forums like the G7, the G20 and the UN climate conference COP26 in Egypt – “but these are also a huge opportunity for us as industrialised states, who ultimately are responsible for global warming.” In her speech at the G7 energy ministers’ meeting on 27 May, Baerbock stressed that effective climate action means industrialised states cooperate with an eye on environmental and security policy challenges “and not each one just pouring money in investments on their own.”

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