Leading climate change economist warns US of trade boycott

19th November 2010, Comments 0 comments

A British climate change economist at the heart of international negotiations seeking a greenhouse gas deal said Friday that the US faces a trade boycott if it fails to rein in its carbon emissions.

Lord Nicholas Stern, author of the British government's 2006 report on the economics of climate change, warned the US that many countries would shun its goods if they deemed them to be "dirty."

"The US will increasingly see the risks of being left behind, and 10 years from now they would have to start worrying about being shut out of markets because their production is dirty," Stern told The Times newspaper.

"If they persist in being slow about reducing emissions, US exports will start to look more carbon intensive."

Stern advises several G20 countries and his 2006 Stern review is regarded as the most in-depth and well-known study into climate change economics.

World leaders will meet at the UN climate change conference in Cancun, Mexico, in 10 days' time to try and kickstart emissions negotiations which faltered at the Copenhagen conference last December.

Stern said that countries who have pledged to reduce their emissions would resent competition from "dirty" exports. He highlighted aircraft, cars and machine tools as goods which could face restrictions.

"If you are charging properly for carbon and other people are not, you will take that into account," he said. "Many of the more forward-looking people in the US are thinking about this."

US President Barack Obama pledged before the Copenhagen conference to cut US emissions by 17 percent on 2005 levels by 2020, but has been thwarted by Congress.

Any new US commitments within the next two years are highly unlikely following the Republican party's gains in the midterm elections.

© 2010 AFP

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