I know that in my Twitter feed I am told a “carbon tax is GOOD” and the “Trumpian trade war with China is BAD.” But isn’t Trump’s trade war, at least indirectly, a tax on carbon emissions?
Most Chinese exports are manufactured goods, and they are produced in a fairly carbon-intensive manner. Furthermore, it doesn’t seem that Vietnam is able to pick up the slack, so it is not just a case of substituting from one dirty carbon emitter to another. It seems the trade war is genuinely restricting trade, and over time it will restrict the consumption and production of carbon-intensive goods. China is by far the exporter with the most to lose.
Of course the targeting of these new taxes is far from ideal from an environmental point of view, nor are they contingent on emissions in the proper manner (still, China is hardly on the verge of being able to switch into clean manufacturing, and in that sense contingent may not matter so much). And it is hardly the case that Trump has “green motives.”
Still, put aside all the imperfections — don’t we finally have a carbon tax — and a framework for improving it — that so many commentators have been wanting all along? Won’t this give Elizabeth Warren the chance to really fine-tune the apparatus?
On these points I am indebted to some remarks from Ray Lopez. And here is my earlier 2016 post “Tyrone on why Democrats should vote for Donald Trump.“