Using climate and trade policy to counter Putin’s playbook

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Europe’s energy crisis has rekindled US concerns that Russia could use its energy dominance across the continent to prevent a strong response from NATO allies if Russia extends its war in Ukraine. This is why American presidents, from Ronald Reagan to Donald Trump, have sought to prevent European dependence on Russia by opposing the construction of Russian energy pipelines to Europe, like the Yamal pipeline. -Europe and NordStream 2. But Europe’s thirst for Russian energy, especially natural gas, has trumped geopolitical concerns – and sadly, the Biden administration acquiesced. Russian President Vladimir Putin is using European energy dependence as an asset in his campaign to subdue Ukraine and other former Soviet republics, annex parts of their territories, undermine transatlantic relations and restore Russia’s greatness.

Instead of complaining about the poor choices of some European allies, the United States should take the lead in responding to Russian intimidation. We have the opportunity to counter Putin’s game plan with a bold initiative in line with European priorities: a transatlantic climate and trade initiative that would reduce global greenhouse gas emissions, increase energy security and reduce energy costs. power of Russia to compel Europe. One aspect of this initiative could be a joint trade mechanism between the United States and the European Union that applies a common carbon levy on imported products. This would not only encourage domestic production of goods and energy, but also demonstrate a clean and efficient production model that other nations could emulate.

Supporters of free trade on both sides of the Atlantic, who favor cheap imports, might oppose this proposal. However, the current global trade regime has tolerated unfair practices that have resulted in a vast transfer of wealth from the West to undemocratic, non-market countries determined to undermine the security of the United States and Europe. It is time to correct the mistakes of the past and prevent mercantilist and state-controlled economies from continuing to ignore environmental, labor and human rights standards to gain an unfair competitive advantage. Currently, the United States imports more Russian oil than it produces in Alaska, and Europe’s dependence on Russian energy is growing. A new strategy could level the playing field by prioritizing cleaner, more ethically produced oil and gas. Such an approach could be an important part of international efforts to reduce emissions; it is also consistent with American and European economic and geopolitical interests.

Europe’s energy crisis has rekindled US concerns that Russia could use its energy dominance across the continent to prevent a strong response from NATO allies if Russia extends its war in Ukraine. This is why American presidents, from Ronald Reagan to Donald Trump, have sought to prevent European dependence on Russia by opposing the construction of Russian energy pipelines to Europe, like the Yamal pipeline. -Europe and NordStream 2. But Europe’s thirst for Russian energy, especially natural gas, has trumped geopolitical concerns – and sadly, the Biden administration acquiesced. Russian President Vladimir Putin is using European energy dependence as an asset in his campaign to subdue Ukraine and other former Soviet republics, annex parts of their territories, undermine transatlantic relations and restore Russia to greatness.

Instead of complaining about the poor choices of some European allies, the United States should take the lead in responding to Russian intimidation. We have the opportunity to counter Putin’s game plan with a bold initiative in line with European priorities: a transatlantic climate and trade initiative that would reduce global greenhouse gas emissions, increase energy security and reduce energy costs. power of Russia to compel Europe. One aspect of this initiative could be a joint trade mechanism between the United States and the European Union that applies a common carbon levy on imported products. This would not only encourage domestic production of goods and energy, but also demonstrate a clean and efficient production model that other countries could emulate.

Supporters of free trade on both sides of the Atlantic, who favor cheap imports, might oppose this proposal. However, the current global trade regime has tolerated unfair practices that have resulted in a vast transfer of wealth from the West to undemocratic, non-market countries determined to undermine the security of the United States and Europe. It is time to correct the mistakes of the past and prevent mercantilist and state-controlled economies from continuing to ignore environmental, labor and human rights standards to gain an unfair competitive advantage. Currently, the United States imports more Russian oil than it produces in Alaska, and Europe’s dependence on Russian energy is growing. A new strategy could level the playing field by prioritizing cleaner, more ethically produced oil and gas. Such an approach could be an important part of international efforts to reduce emissions; it is also consistent with American and European economic and geopolitical interests.

A US initiative to merge climate and trade policy is expected to find support in the EU, which has already presented a proposal to impose carbon charges on imports of energy-intensive manufactured goods. The EU’s current plans, however, have a loophole in the form of NordStream 2 because Europe wants to buy affordable but dirty Russian natural gas while discouraging the development of its own energy resources and those of the United States. U.S. diplomats have the opportunity to work with European allies to promote cleaner fossil fuels as part of a trade and climate policy that aims to reduce emissions while ensuring energy security and preventing Russia from using gas. energy dependence for coercive purposes.

Russian fossil fuel interests fear a transatlantic fusion of climate and trade policies. A deal between the US and the EU could lead to a deal between the G-7 and the other economies that joined the summit this year – Australia, India, New Zealand and South Korea – which in turn would represent at least half of the Russian export market. Igor Sechin, CEO of Russian state oil producer Rosneft, reportedly warned the Kremlin that border carbon charges could be much more damaging to the Russian economy than sanctions. Sechin’s fears are well founded: Russia is heavily dependent on exports of fossil fuels and energy-intensive goods like steel and fertilizers. Profits from oil and natural gas exports represent about 40 percent of the government budget.

A deal between the US and the EU would allow US energy producers to build on their leadership in producing cleaner fossil fuels. Not all fossil fuel productions are the same: the lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions of Russian natural gas shipped to Europe, for example, are over 40 percent more per unit of energy than US shipments of liquefied natural gas. According to a report by the Climate Leadership Council, Russian energy production is on average Twice more carbon intensive than American production. Contrary to Russia’s poor methane record, U.S. producers in North Dakota have earned more than 90 percent natural gas capture rate. European recognition that US natural gas is cleaner in terms of emissions would give US exporters a competitive advantage over more carbon-intensive suppliers like Russia, while encouraging cleaner production at scale. global.

Incorporating global emission reduction targets into the NATO 2030 initiative would strengthen transatlantic relations and solidarity. Russia would no longer be able to take advantage of its low environmental and labor standards. NordStream 2 could become a stranded, impaired, devalued or converted asset. An integrated approach to climate, trade and energy security would prompt European companies to forgo Russian energy investments that undermine transatlantic security interests.

A bold US-EU climate and trade initiative would not only benefit US energy producers, but also recognize US leadership in reducing emissions in a way that does not compromise energy security and economic growth. It is a solution that allows free and open societies to counter Russian coercion. Combined with Western innovation in renewables, advanced nuclear power and hydrogen, this initiative could also be a model inspiring dramatic reductions in emissions and new ways to counter bad actors all over the world.


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