Dem Sen., Biden Co-Chair Coons: Climate Agreements with China Haven’t Worked, Tariffs ‘Similar’ to Trump’s Approach Are Better

On Thursday’s broadcast of CNN International’s “Amanpour,” Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE), who is also a Co-Chair of President Joe Biden’s 2024 re-election bid, stated that climate agreements between the U.S. and China have not worked and that the best way to get China to stop building record amounts of coal power plants is to get tougher with them on trade and use tariffs.

Coons said, “We’re trying to measure the emissions reductions that have already happened in the United States because of our regulations, and then advantage cleaner or lower-emissions heavy industrial products. So, for example, American-made steel and aluminum should not face any tariffs, whereas perhaps steel and aluminum coming from Russia or China that are intensive in their emissions would, and imports from the E.U. or Canada or U.K. wouldn’t because they have regulatory schemes because of their carbon taxes and because of their regulations that are comparably low emissions to ours.”

Host Christiane Amanpour then asked, “So, let’s talk about China, because it’s clearly a very big player, and most of the China experts, including the Biden administration climate czar John Kerry, basically state the obvious, that without China’s cooperation, none of this will come to pass. There are distinctly frosty relations between the United States and China right now — I mean, worse than frosty. Do you see anything in the attempts at a thaw that the U.S. is trying to project that could bear any fruit?”

Coons responded, “So, look, I’m always an optimist about that possibility, but this is an approach that doesn’t require warmer or closer relations between the United States and China. That’s part of the beauty of an approach that says, if you want to access the American market, you have to prove that you have low-emissions heavy industrial products. The thing that is most likely to bend the curve of emissions in China and India is market forces through trade. … That will drive them to change their emissions profiles, to slow down the rate at which they’re currently building a record number of coal-fired power plants. That’s the thing that is going to drive global reductions in emissions, more than any agreement. Because, I frankly think our relations may continue to be strained, or even, as you put it, frosty for years to come. So, using the free market, using trade might well work. The agreements so far have not.”

He added that the approach of keeping high tariffs “on high-emissions imports from countries like China or Russia” is “actually similar to the trade approach of the former President, President Trump.”

Follow Ian Hanchett on Twitter @IanHanchett


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