The bottom line about the international aspects of climate change is that the very idea of an effective response assumes
the existence of a generally cooperative international environment. It
doesn’t assume the non-existence of the odd “rogue” state here or
there, but it assumes the absence of any kind of serious great power
rivalries. Not just China, but also India and probably Russia, Brazil,
and Indonesia as well are going to need to cooperate in a serious way
with the OECD nations on this. And I just don’t see how you’re going to
get where you need to get through coercion. If anything, I think
attempted economic coercion of China is more likely to wind up breaking
down solidarity between the US, EU, and Japan than anything else.
First, we impose our carbon tariff. Then suddenly Airbus and European
car companies are getting all kinds of sales because the EU hasn’t
followed suit. Now not only are the Chinese mad at us, we’re mad at the
Europeans. Optimistically, at this point everyone decides coercion is unworkable and we start to back away.
I'll say it again: the current version of Waxman-Markey will make things worse. Keep in mind by the time we are slapping those 2020 tariffs on China, we won't have made much progress on emissions ourselves. How would we feel, and how would it influence our domestic politics, if the Chinese demanded we pass Waxman-Markey, while polluting at a high level themselves, or otherwise they will stop buying our Treasury securities?