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Reproduced from Energy Institute at HAAS; Chart: Axios Visuals

A new working paper finds that trade barriers worldwide are generally lower for carbon-intensive goods than cleaner products, creating a large "implicit subsidy to CO2 emissions."

Why it matters: UC Berkeley economist Joseph Shapiro pegs this "subsidy" at $550 billion to $800 billion annually, making it harder to fight climate change.

How it works: The paper explores tariffs (shown above) and other import penalties on a vast array of goods.

  • Penalties are generally lower on "dirtier" sectors — think metals and petrochemicals for instance — used as manufacturing inputs for consumer goods.
  • Shapiro concludes that ending the trade restriction imbalance between "dirty" and "clean" industries would help curb emissions.

The bottom line: "The resulting change in global CO2 emissions has similar magnitude to the estimated effects of some of the world’s largest actual or proposed climate change policies," Shapiro writes.

Why you'll hear about this again: The EU is planning "carbon border adjustments" to keep domestic industries from being undercut by competitors in nations without climate policies.

  • Plus, White House hopeful Joe Biden's platform vows "fees or quotas on carbon-intensive goods from countries that are failing to meet their climate and environmental obligations."

Go deeper

Ben Geman, author of Generate
Aug 6, 2020 - Energy & Environment

Filibuster and Obama fossil fuel ties could slow Biden's climate ambitions

Photo: Mark Makela/Getty Images

Two new stories, taken together, highlight the political push-pull around Joe Biden's climate and energy plans.

Driving the news: Bloomberg reported on Wednesday that some left activists "want Biden to distance himself from former Obama administration advisers they view as either too moderate or too cozy with the fossil fuel industry."

Why made-for-TV moments matter during the pandemic

Photo illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photos: Erin Schaff-Pool, Biden Inaugural Committee via Getty Images

In a world where most Americans are isolated and forced to laugh, cry and mourn without friends or family by their side, viral moments can offer critical opportunities to unite the country or divide it.

Driving the news: President Biden's inauguration was produced to create several made-for-social viral moments, a tactic similar to what the Democratic National Committee and the Biden campaign pulled off during the Democratic National Convention.

Updated 7 hours ago - World

Over 3,000 detained in protests across Russia demanding Navalny's release

Russian police officers beat protestesters at a rally against of jailing of oppositon leader Alexei Navalny in Moscow on Saturday. Photo: Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images

Police in Russia on Saturday arrested more than 3,300 people as protesters nationwide demanded that opposition leader Alexey Navalny be released from jail.

Details: Demonstrations began in the eastern regions of Russia and spread west to more than 60 cities.