Krugman on environmental economics

Long but excellent article by Paul Krugman on Environmental Economics 101 and the economics of climate change. I also recommend Michael Roberts' addendum and heartily second his emphasis on argiculture, forests and land use which Krugman under-addresses.

One thing I found interesting was Krugman's favorable take on both the legitimacy and the feasibility of carbon tariffs:
To the objection that such a policy would be protectionist, a violation of the principles of free trade, one reply is, So? Keeping world markets open is important, but avoiding planetary catastrophe is a lot more important. In any case, however, you can argue that carbon tariffs are well within the rules of normal trade relations. As long as the tariff imposed on the carbon content of imports is comparable to the cost of domestic carbon licenses, the effect is to charge your own consumers a price that reflects the carbon emitted in what they buy, no matter where it is produced. That should be legal under international-trading rules. In fact, even the World Trade Organization, which is charged with policing trade policies, has published a study suggesting that carbon tariffs would pass muster. [emphasis mine]
These aren't pushover arguments, but my gut reaction is that even if the WTO sanctions this type of action, the reaction from countries like China wouldn't be pretty.

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