Global Britain? UK Seeks ‘Carbon Border Tax’ on Countries That Don’t Meet Climate Goals

ST IVES, CORNWALL - JUNE 13: An Extinction Rebellion environmental activist wearing a Boris Johnson mask stages a demonstration during the G7 summit on June 13, 2021 in St Ives, England. Environmental Protest Groups gather in Cornwall as the UK Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, hosts leaders from the USA, Japan, …
Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images

Instead of taking full advantage of the economic possibilities of leaving the European Union, the British government may seek to impose border carbon taxes on imports from countries that do not live up to the green vision of Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

Environment Secretary George Eustice said on Sunday that while the UK will seek to craft multilateral standards on the environment, a “carbon border tax” would be an option for countries that do not curb their emissions.

“We would be saying, as countries, that we’re taking the action necessary to deal with this global challenge, but we’re not going to allow those producers in this country to be undercut by those who aren’t doing their share, and we’re not going to export pollution,” Eustice told the BBC’s Andrew Marr programme.

“So if you don’t want to export pollution, then you do at some point have to consider something like a carbon border tax,” he added.

Despite earlier hinting at such a prospect, the environment secretary said that he would not be in favour of imposing an “arbitrary meat tax or meat levy“, saying that the tax has “never been on the cards”.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who is hosting the United Nation’s COP26 climate change summit in Glasgow, Scotland called for the nations of the world to “pull together and drive for the line”.

“Countries must come back to the table this week ready to make the bold compromises and ambitious commitments needed,” he said.

Mr Johnson has previously warned that the world is “one minute to midnight on that doomsday clock” in the face of the supposed climate crisis and therefore requires a global deal to reduce carbon emissions.

Prior to the UK officially leaving the European Union, Brexiteers, including current government minister Jacob Rees-Mogg had argued that prices for consumers on items such as clothing and footwear would fall as a result of being freed from the EU’s tariff regime.

However, should a carbon border tax be implemented, it could compromise the ability of the average person to see such savings.

This would come on top of the rising costs of energy and investments into supposedly green technologies to meet Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s net-zero emissions pledge, which the Institute for Fiscal Studies says would cost Britain trillions of pounds over the next three decades. The think tank predicted that the lion’s share of the cost would be borne by consumers.

Ironically, the government’s planned carbon border tax falls in line with a similar policy from the European Union, which announced earlier this year a proposal for a “carbon border adjustment mechanism” that would impose penalties on pollution caused by foreign companies if their own governments do not punish the industries.

Unlike Brexit, the British public has not been afforded the ability to weigh in on the nominally Conservative government’s green agenda.

Brexit leader Nigel Farage has said that he may take up the issue as his next campaign and push for a referendum. Mr Farage argued that the radical green agenda of Mr Johnson would be “ruinous” for Britain and result in “huge transfers of money from the poor to the rich”.

A poll earlier this month found that 42 per cent of the public would favour a referendum on Johnson’s net-zero plan, with only 30 per cent opposing such a vote.

Follow Kurt Zindulka on Twitter here @KurtZindulka

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