How a European law might get companies around the world to cut climate pollution

May 17, 2023
By Michael Copley

The European Union is ushering in a new era of international trade that could help rein in climate change. Lawmakers for the group of 27 countries adopted rules for taxing imports based on the amount of carbon dioxide that companies emit making those goods. Experts say it’s the first time a major economy has married climate and trade policy, and that it could lead other countries to do the same.

What Europe’s doing is a “very big deal,” says Greg Bertelsen, chief executive of the Climate Leadership Council, an advocacy group. He says that without incentives for cleaner manufacturing, “we simply will not get to where we need to get to, from a climate standpoint.”

“Republicans and Democrats are coming to this issue from different angles. On the Democratic side, it tends to be climate interests that bring members into the discussion,” says Bertelsen of the Climate Leadership Council. “But on the Republican side, it actually tends to be economic interests and geopolitical interests that’s brought them into this discussion, with climate perhaps as a collateral benefit.”