July 09, 2019

Can Tariffs and Sanctions Lead to a Better Climate Change Strategy?

A little more than two years since he announced in the Rose Garden that the United States was “getting out” of the Paris climate change agreement, President Donald Trump was in Japan, the sole leader at the G-20 summit to disagree with a modest communiqueonce again committing the international community to taking on climate change. It laid bare America’s isolation under Trump on an issue that much of the world—and indeed more and more of the American public—consider increasingly dire.

Climate change has hardly taken center stage in the Democratic presidential primary, accounting for less than 15 minutes of the first, two-night debate last month. Activists and other observers have used that scant amount of airtime to push again for a primary debate focused solely on climate change.

There may be agreement among the many Democratic hopefuls on rejoining the Paris Agreement, but it’s less clear how they would all try and strengthen the international response to climate change, including by giving more force to the requirements of the United Nations-brokered deal. Currently, the Paris Agreement has no active enforcement mechanism; countries will be judged on the adequacy and ambition of their individual plans to cut carbon emissions, but there isn’t any punishment for those who violate the deal’s rules or don’t uphold their environmental commitments. Witness Trump’s intended exit in the first place, which is explicitly allowed in the agreement, and which has brought reputational costs to his administration, but nothing more.

Read the full article in World Politics Review.

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