China’s Trading Partners Cause China’s Pollution

Well, here’s an interesting turnabout. A Chinese government official has called on China’s trading partners to put a tariff on goods they import from China:

WASHINGTON, March 16 (Reuters) – Countries that buy Chinese goods should be held responsible for the carbon dioxide emitted by the factories that make them in any global plan to reduce greenhouse gases, a Chinese official said on Monday.

“About 15 percent to 25 percent of China’s emissions come from the products which we make for the world, which should not be taken by us,” said Gao Li, director of China’s Department of Climate Change.

Speaking at a forum sponsored by the Pew Center on Global Climate Change, Gao added that “this share of emission should be taken by the consumers, not the producers” and called the demand a “very important item to make (for a) fair agreement.”

That’s not what he’s saying? Then what the heck is he saying?

Over the last few years exports have accounted for something like 75% of China’s economic growth. If China doesn’t like the negative externalities, e.g. pollution, that come along with the economic growth, they might consider toughening environmental regulations on polluters. Or, heavens forfend, ending the subsidies they pay to exporters.

However, it does seem that Director Gao has happened upon a creative way of blaming China’s customers for the problems caused by China’s policies.

FILED UNDER: Climate Change, Uncategorized, , , ,
Dave Schuler
About Dave Schuler
Over the years Dave Schuler has worked as a martial arts instructor, a handyman, a musician, a cook, and a translator. He's owned his own company for the last thirty years and has a post-graduate degree in his field. He comes from a family of politicians, teachers, and vaudeville entertainers. All-in-all a pretty good preparation for blogging. He has contributed to OTB since November 2006 but mostly writes at his own blog, The Glittering Eye, which he started in March 2004.


  1. Jeffrey W. Baker says:

    I’ve actually been advocating this for years. It makes no sense to have local environmental, social, and labor regulations when you export all your production to another country that lacks them. We should have tariffs on China and others to draw even with the costs imposed on our local producers, and to price in externalities like carbon emissions.

  2. Pete Burgess says:

    “However, it does seem that Director Gao has happened upon a creative way of blaming China’s customers for the problems caused by China’s policies.”

    They must have been taking their cue from the Dems regarding the sub prime mortgage meltdown.

  3. Drew says:


  4. Pete Burgess says:

    Jeffrey, tariffs are nothing more than acts of punishment to influence behavior. Generally counter productive. Rather than forcing China to subscribe to a questionable crisis, why don’t we improve our high cost manufacturing sector by passing The Fair Tax? Bring some of that manufacturing back home and impose a more face saving form of behavior modification.

  5. Pete Burgess says:
  6. Brett says:

    That always struck me as a way to get other countries to go along with a proposed US reduction on greenhouse gases. Just figure out what you want them to emit, then levy a tariff based on a pre-set per-unit value of each greenhouse gas emitted.

  7. Maybe he likes Smoot-Hawley. Who knows?

  8. odograph says:

    No there is a method to it. It is about carbon footprints (or mercury footprints) and how to calculate them.

    If you total a nation’s emissions and divide by it’s population, that is one number, and it is fair in a sense. But it’s unfair in another, for instance if anyone is using that type of number for china to say that some rice farmer actually emits as much as an urban dweller elsewhere in the world.

    If the toaster and hifi went to the urban dweller it was his carbon, from a lifestyle standpoint.

    Of course, if china were interested in Pigovian taxes on any kind of pollution (carbon or mercury) they could just assess it at the smokestack, charge the factory, who would in turn charge the exporter, who would charge the importer, who would charge the urban dweller.

    FWIW, I imagine the quote is “inside baseball” and relates to country-allocations of carbon in whatever legal scheme they are considering.

    If it is a “cap per country” then sure, I’d try to move it to the other guy’s column.

  9. odograph says:

    (The weird thing is, his comments do lead to a tariff idea, which I think is more in our favor than theirs. We can use them to cut the payroll taxes.)

  10. DL says:

    We’ve heard this innocent victim game before…wasn’t it Adam that blamed God for the fall when he said, “It was that woman You made for me?”

    Or was it Chris Dodd that said, “That evil AIG taking evil bonuses on the backs of my poor downtrodden overburdened taxpayers?”

    Or was it Obama saying, “That Bush -everything is his fault?”

    Sigh – the more things change the more they stay the same.