Addressing the unprecedented climate crisis requires domestic climate policy as well as collaborative global action. A report released this month by the Climate Solutions Lab at the Watson Institute of International and Public Affairs at Brown University puts the spotlight on these linkages by proposing 10 opportunities for the next U.S. president to place climate at the center of U.S. foreign policy. These are meant to be complementary to a domestic climate agenda that must be passed through Congress, and they focus on actions that can be taken by the president through “executive climate actions”.
The report’s very first recommendation is for the creation of an international “climate club” to reduce carbon emissions. This would first require the U.S. to lead by example by implementing ambitious domestic climate policy. Then, the U.S. and other nations committed to mitigating climate change would establish a “club” with a coordinated target for a minimum carbon price in each country. Non-members would be penalized via trade measures, more specifically through a uniform tariff on all imports from high-emitting countries that refuse to join. To ensure its impact and increase its membership, the starting group of the climate club must include at least the U.S., Europe and China.
This recommendation is also the proposal of Part II of our recent report “Addressing Climate Change Using a Carbon Tax & Dividend Plan Within a Global Compact”. We suggest implementing a carbon tax and dividend policy as an essential part of a broader mosaic of domestic policy solutions. This then puts the U.S. in a position to lead the formation of the Global Climate Compact. Although more actions will still be needed to prevent irreversible and catastrophic climate harm, a rising global carbon price will be a giant step in that direction. The release of the Climate Solutions Lab new report shows a growing recognition for the need for global cooperation on climate change that goes beyond voluntary measures. The president of the United States is best positioned to launch a solution that can protect our climate and restore U.S. leadership on the global stage.