China looks at carbon tax, official says in US

Jan 11, 2012 by Shaun Tandon
Director General Su Wei (R) from China's National Development and Reform Commission, and Harriet Babbitt, Vice Chair of World Resources Institutes' Board of Directors, exchange documents following the signing of a memorandum of understanding for collaboration on sustainable urbanization.

China's lead negotiator on climate change said Wednesday that the world's largest emitter is considering imposing a tax on carbon to reduce the use of dirty energy as its economy grows.

Su Wei, on a visit to Washington, said that the fast-developing Asian power was looking at the impact of an outright tax on carbon and whether it would overlap with China's plans for a pilot scheme on .

"I think that the carbon tax is one of the instruments that can be used in order to direct (the economy) to low-carbon development," Su Wei told reporters on a visit to the World Resources Institute, a think-tank.

Su, director general of the climate change department at China's powerful National Development and Reform Commission, said officials had not taken a final decision and were debating whether to use the term "carbon tax."

"Whether we call it a carbon tax -- or environment tax or resource tax or even fuel tax -- we have lots of taxes already. We need to carefully redesign the category and type," he said.

Chinese state media said last week that a proposal submitted to the would impose a tax of 10 yuan ($1.59) per ton of carbon within the next three years, targeting large users of coal, oil and natural gas.

In a speech to the institute, Su said that China was also looking at a plan to put voluntary labels on low-carbon products "in order to try to give a clear signal to business and industry."

China has surpassed the United States as the largest emitter of the which many scientists say are contributing to the world's rising temperatures and .

China has pledged to reduce the intensity of its but it says it cannot reduce its carbon emissions in net terms while lifting millions of citizens out of poverty.

The European Union, which has been at the forefront of efforts to combat climate change, has balked at a direct tax on carbon and instead has a "cap and trade" system that restricts emissions and allows companies to trade in credits for action.

Australia in November imposed a carbon tax, which at Aus$23 (US$23.70) per ton of carbon is much higher than China's proposed level. Australia plans to transition to a trading system in 2015.

In the United States, proposals for nationwide action on climate change have died in the Senate. But California and East Coast states have launched their own trading initiatives, which Su is observing on his visit.

The United States rejected the Kyoto Protocol, the first treaty that requires cuts in carbon emissions, because it does not cover China and other emerging economies.

In talks last month in Durban, South Africa, 194 countries agreed to seek a new agreement to take effect in 2020. The United Nations, and European Union hailed the deal as putting all countries under the same legal roof for the first time.

But Su said that China understood that one of the key original principles of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change -- that nations have different historical responsibilities -- was still in force.

"That also implies that the current division of developed and developing countries would continue," Su said.

China's actions on are seen cynically by many US lawmakers and commentators, particularly conservatives. John Lee, a visiting fellow at the Washington-based Hudson Institute, said that a -- unlike a cap and trade plan -- sets no limit on emissions.

China therefore can keep up emissions while enjoying political cover or can transfer the burden of the tax to export manufacturers, many of which are foreigners, he wrote in The Wall Street Journal Asia.

"Don't be fooled. Beijing's proposal is little more than clever political theater mixed with passing the economic buck," he wrote.

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User comments : 12

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Xbw
1.5 / 5 (17) Jan 11, 2012
"Whether we call it a carbon tax -- or environment tax or resource tax or even fuel tax -- we have lots of taxes already."

Yes China...Yes you do. Global warming is the perfect excuse to pile more taxes on though. Look at how well "green money" is doing in the USA and other western nations! You might as well do it too.
Howhot
4.1 / 5 (11) Jan 11, 2012
Actually "green money" is doing quite well right now (more or less): For current market conditions, see

http://www.sustai...r.stocks

From what I see, green is the future. I'm not sure what it will be or when, but it looks like green industries are staged to take off.

Vendicar_Decarian
3.9 / 5 (11) Jan 12, 2012
"Global warming is the perfect excuse to pile more taxes on though." - Xbw

Not content to just childishly whine about the excessive yet historically low taxes in his own nation, Xbw feels a need to whine about proposed taxes in other nations.

It is completely mindless of course. But then mindless is what mindless does.
Sinister1811
2.2 / 5 (11) Jan 12, 2012
Xbw's concern is legitimate.

We have a Carbon Tax in Australia, and it hasn't done anything towards helping the environment, or preventing pollution. All it is is a way for governments to cash in on what's currently happening with Global Warming. It's bullshit. China - don't copy Australia with a Carbon Tax - it isn't worth it.
Sinister1811
1.9 / 5 (9) Jan 12, 2012
How can you argue with people who actually believe that putting a price on Carbon will reduce emissions? Are you serious? Instead, they should be investing time, money and research on alternative, clean energy sources. It's a joke. The Carbon Tax is just a way for governments to cash in on Climate Change. You know it. I know it. We all know it. It's a scam. And those who disagree live with the delusion that they're actually "helping the environment". What bs.
Xbw
1.5 / 5 (17) Jan 12, 2012
How can you argue with people who actually believe that putting a price on Carbon will reduce emissions? Are you serious? Instead, they should be investing time, money and research on alternative, clean energy sources. It's a joke. The Carbon Tax is just a way for governments to cash in on Climate Change. You know it. I know it. We all know it. It's a scam. And those who disagree live with the delusion that they're actually "helping the environment". What bs.

Exactly. And Vendicar, the reason our taxes are so low are because people like myself and Sinister actually stand up for our rights and do what we can to keep the government from taking more for their own self indulgence.
M_N
2.3 / 5 (3) Jan 13, 2012
"...impose a tax of 10 yuan ($1.59) per ton of carbon within the next three years"

Shaun, PLEASE learn the difference between carbon and CO2 - they are NOT the same (burning 1 ton of carbon produces about 3.6 tons of CO2). These taxes are per ton of CO2.

The minority Australian Labor government was forced to introduce this insidious tax (the highest and most comprehensive in the world) by their Greens coalition partners. They did this despite promising not to do so before the last election. As a result, they are facing record low polling and look to be annihilated at the next election. Thankfully the current conservative opposition has promised to repeal the tax once they come into power.
Howhot
3.7 / 5 (3) Jan 13, 2012
I think a tax is workable, but it needs to have a global reach. What we want is pressure to move industries from high CO2 greenhouse gas pollution from coal, oil and natural gas energy sources to sustainable solar, wind, hydro. A tax on imports that is proportional to the products overall CO2 pollution yields might give incentives for industries to locate to clean sustainable environments, and encourage polluters to consider alternative sources.

It might also apply political pressures to conservatives to consider the immense damage CO2 is and will cause to the global communities.

It does need a global community effort though, or the polluters will feel discriminated against and complain to conservatives.
antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (1) Jan 13, 2012
I think a tax is workable, but it needs to have a global reach.

There is no global tax agency. So there's really no alternative than to do this one nation at a time.
Howhot
3 / 5 (2) Jan 17, 2012
No, there is not a global tax agency, but there is an international trade organization. Suppose for example a country says, we will import XYZ and based on that, we estimate that it was produced with 90% fossil fuel and 10% renewable and consumed 10Kw to make. There for we are going to place a CO2 Tax on your imports to this country.

That was the idea I had in mind. It can be a unilateral action but eventually trade would develop that encourages less CO2 consumption. Some countries are into carbon trading already. This type of action would just encourage the non-participating countries to join.
antialias_physorg
not rated yet Jan 18, 2012
Some countries are into carbon trading already. This type of action would just encourage the non-participating countries to join.

It would? Something that has just then made their own products and services more sought after (since they don't levy a tax)?
I don't see that at all - epecially with countries which are in the pockets of big business (which are basically all of them).

To get such taxes going there have to be pople who get them gonig - not only good reasons. Politicians are bought and sold like so much cattle these days. To get one (let alone a majority) of politicians to get something like this going would take a miracle.
Howhot
3 / 5 (2) Jan 19, 2012
Think of this unilateral action as something akin to a trade war, but with tariffs on the CO2 production from the product imported.

Someone with guts and a strong green slant maybe able to get something like this started. With predicted global climate change, I suspect by 2050 there may be enough political pressures to get something like this going.

Sadly I have to agree with you, it is pie-in-the-sky wishful thinking. We have, after all, the UNFCCC and the IPCC at work that should have established a framework for countries to reduce carbon emissions. I think things will have to wait until we are way past the tipping point but when they do, I could easily see a unilateral CO2 trade-war happening against polluting (or non-compliant) nations.