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BASIC nations oppose EU’s plan to impose a ‘carbon border tax’

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(This story originally appeared in on Apr 10, 2021)

At a time when the European Union is toying with the idea of ‘carbon border tax’ as part of its green push, the BASIC nations — Brazil, South Africa, India and China — have jointly opposed the move, saying such trade barrier would not only be discriminatory but also against the principles of equity under the Paris Agreement on climate change.

The BASIC nations expressed concerns over the issue while discussing climate actions during the two-day ministerial meeting which concluded on Thursday. India was the host of the 30th BASIC ministerial meeting, chaired by environment minister Prakash Javadekar.

“Ministers expressed concerns regarding the proposal for introducing trade barriers, such as unilateral carbon border adjustment, that are discriminatory and against the principles of equity and CBDR-RC (common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities),” said the joint statement of the BASIC nations.

The EU is mulling a ‘carbon border tax’ (carbon border adjustment) on imports in order to force emerging economies to adopt cleaner (non-fossil fuel-based) practices to manufacture goods. Several reports suggest that the Union, representing 27 nations, would come out with its formal proposal in June with a clear roadmap to discuss the issue ahead of the 26th session of the UN climate conference (COP26) to be held in Glasgow (UK) in November.

The Group’s joint stand against the proposed carbon trade tax assumes significance ahead of the upcoming leaders’ summit on climate on April 22-23 where 40 world leaders, including from EU nations, UK, India, China and Australia, may express their views on such trade barriers. The US, host of the summit, is expected to clear its stand on the issue at the forum.

It is believed by policy-makers in emerging economies that the ‘carbon border adjustment’ concept is being discussed in the garb of pushing developing countries to ‘net-zero’ (emission minus removal of carbon amounts to zero) goals on the basis of untested and expensive technologies for carbon removal.

Besides the controversial issue of carbon trade tax, the BASIC nations also raised the issue of climate finance noting that “finance is the key enabler of enhanced ambitions and climate action, particularly at a time when developing countries are facing multiple developmental challenges and the devastating impact of the Covid-19 pandemic”.

The meeting also expressed concern over the rich nations’ failure to fulfil their pre-2020 promises under the Kyoto Protocol whose Doha amendment, incidentally, entered into force just a day before it was due to expire.

“Commitments made by developed countries in the pre-2020 period must be honoured even as we have moved into the post-2020 era. The substantial gaps in mitigation, adaptation and support provided by developed countries to developing countries in the pre-2020 period must be counterbalanced by ambitious climate change action by developed countries in the post-2020 period,” said the joint statement.

The ministers also urged rich nations to revisit their targets on mitigation under the UN Convention (UNFCCC) and Kyoto Protocol, and fulfil their commitments of providing support to developing countries.

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