Presidential nominee Joe Biden and some Democrats in Congress want to use trade agreements to combat global warming, breaking from decades of U.S. trade policy that largely ignored climate change.
The move would add financial teeth to international pacts to reduce carbon emissions, which until now have relied on voluntary participation by the countries signing them. It would also mark a departure from the Trump administration strategy of boosting fossil-fuel exports.
Democrats and environmentalists say the shift is necessary because the worst impacts of climate change can’t be averted unless the whole world cuts carbon emissions. And the U.S. has the economic might to push that change.
“The U.S. is in a globally unique position,” said Todd Tucker, a trade and climate researcher at the Roosevelt Institute, a progressive think tank. “It’s got the largest consumer market in the world and with that comes a lot of leverage over foreign governments.”
Biden’s trade agenda calls for a global ban on fossil-fuel subsidies, tariffs on imports that produce a lot of carbon, and trade deals that include commitments to reduce emissions. Key Democratic trade leaders in Congress say they are on board.
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