Potential Impacts and Challenges of Border Carbon Adjustments

This article for Nature Climate Change examines the potential impacts of border carbon adjustments on leakage, competitiveness, and cooperation.

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Jan. 5, 2022


Christoph Böhringer, Carolyn Fischer, and Nicholas Rivers


Journal Article

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1 minute


Harmonized carbon pricing across borders is hard to achieve in the real world as carbon leakage can reduce the cost-effectiveness of unilateral approaches to reduce global emissions. To address this problem, border carbon adjustments (BCAs) would apply the domestic carbon price to emissions embodied in traded goods, which levels the playing field for emissions-intensive and trade-exposed industries. Here, we review the potential environmental and economic impact of border carbon adjustments on leakage reduction, competitiveness restoration, cost-effectiveness, equity and cooperation enhancement. We find that the viability of border carbon adjustment schemes can be substantially reduced with the current legal and practical implementation constraints.


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