Fighting climate change through trade liberalization

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The Institute of Public Affairs, a free market-oriented think tank in Australia, has issued a mini-manifesto on combating climate change. In Undermining Mitigation Technology, Tim Wilson puts forth two arguments about how best to develop and spread new technologies to combat climate change. His big argument is that patent rights ought not to be violated. I think that part of the argument will prove contentious.

More interesting to me is Wilson's argument that trade barriers present a significant obstacle to the diffusion of mitigation technology. This one looks like a no-brainer. In his own words:

The global market for environmental goods and services is worth between USD$550 billion and USD$613 billion per annum. Of this figure, 35 per cent is in goods and 65per cent in services. Yet some countries impose tariffs of up to 70 per cent on these technologies. In Asia and Latin America the average tariff on environmentally sensitive technologies is between 15 and 20 per cent. If the governments of developing countries want to promote the transfer of CO2 mitigation technologies, they can do something immediately‚ÄĒremove their tariff barriers.


Ryan Hahn

Operations Officer

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