The struggle to establish guidelines by which the world will cut greenhouse gas emissions continues. The newest development? China should, according to statements made Monday by U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke, have to invest more definitively in environmental protection measures. In other words, China will, should Locke’s plan come to fruition, have to “pay” to decrease greenhouse gasses.
Locke made the statement in a conference with members of the Manufacturing Council, a private sector advising group. He and U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu were visiting China to discuss how the two countries could work together to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve clean energy technologies. The pair praised China for eco-friendly steps it has already taken, calling China a model for other developing countries. Yet they encouraged the country to take further action to reduce its carbon footprint. (China surpasses the U.S. in overall greenhouse gas emissions, but U.S. per-capita emissions exceed those of China.)
Locke’s sentiment that China should pay differed greatly from his previous one: that U.S. consumers, not Chinese or other foreign suppliers, should pay for the carbon content of goods Americans purchase. He said Americans’ consumerism had caused many of the world’s environmental problems, and that America should, therefore, compensate for the damage.
Lockes’ colleagues have since emphasized that, in making this statement, he was not promoting the taxation of foreign imports containing carbon, as this would put the U.S. at a trade disadvantage. Instead, he was, they say, attempting to assure that U.S. companies compete on a level playing field.