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GUEST POST: at Copenhagen, beware “green” protectionism

December 1st, 2009 Posted in Economics by

dusty_kidWith all eyes on the UN summit at Copenhagen this month, keen observers are wondering whether collaborations are possible to mitigate climate change. Yet some proposals would do more harm than good, with “green” protectionism the most dangerous of all.

These are proposals to permit trade restrictions on the grounds that they will help to prevent climate change–a sadly misleading theory, which has predictably gained support already from uncompetitive industries and other vested interests have jumped on the bandwagon.

In our petition against these measures, the Freedom to Trade campaign explains:

“Trade enables specialisation, which results in the development of new technologies and leads to the creation of wealth. In the past two decades, trade has enabled over a billion people to escape poverty. Trade is the most powerful weapon in humanity’s armoury to fight poverty and environmental ills, including climate change. Trade restrictions are not desirable, nor are they an effective means of addressing climate change.”

Ongoing health disasters that some fear will be accentuated by climate change are already a reality today for millions of people–as a result of poverty, imbedded by oppression and trade restrictions.  Every thirty seconds a child dies of malaria, an entirely preventable and curable disease.  Seventeen thousand people in poor countries die every day from respiratory or diarrhoeal illnesses.

To instil today’s disasters by encouraging barriers to trade that are already preventing people in poor countries from lifting themselves out of poverty is madness. Please sign our petition against this phoney cure, and send a message to the politicians in Copenhagen that trade and wealth are our best weapons to adapt to a changing climate.


Alec van Gelder is Project Director of the Freedom to Trade campaign and writes on trade for publications such as the Wall Street Journal and Sydney Morning Herald.

2 Responses to “GUEST POST: at Copenhagen, beware “green” protectionism”

  1. Niklas Smith Says:

    Signed. It is fair to impose a carbon tax on fuel used in transport; this is a far better way of dealing with trade-related emissions than “green” tariffs.

  2. jonn3 Says: