Bloomberg Speaks Out Against ‘Carbon Tariff’

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WASHINGTON — Mayor Bloomberg is warning Congress against a “retreat into protectionism” as it considers legislation to fight global warming by imposing a cap on carbon emissions.

The mayor testified yesterday on climate change proposals at a House committee hearing, urging lawmakers to act quickly in an effort to curb the effects of global warming. Mr. Bloomberg has spoken out repeatedly on the issue in the last year, but yesterday he also took a stand against plans to include a “carbon tariff” in climate change legislation as a way of protecting American workers from the potential fallout resulting from higher manufacturing costs.

The tax on imports would apply to countries that do not sign onto a global agreement to reduce carbon emissions, as many Democrats and some Republicans are urging America to do.

Mr. Bloomberg acknowledged that a tariff “may eventually become necessary,” but he said the country should “not look for excuses to retreat into protectionism” or wait for major polluters like China and India to get on board.

“The time has come for this committee, both sides of the aisle, to come together and say we cannot afford to sit around and spend another four years trying to negotiate with other countries overseas,” he told the House Ways and Means Committee. “What we have to do is lead by example. Do it here first. It’s tough enough a political lift for us. If we have to wait for the rest of the world, it’s just not going to get done.”

The mayor faced resistance from several Republicans on the panel who warned of higher energy costs because of a cap on carbon emissions, as well as from a fellow witness who favored a “carbon tariff.”

“Any measure, including climate change legislation, that places significant additional costs on U.S. manufacturers without imposing similar costs on imports will plainly harm U.S. workers and businesses, put additional pressure on core U.S. industries, and lead to a further worsening of our trade deficit,” an attorney specializing in international trade issues, Robert Lighthizer, told the committee.

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