The Climate Case Against Decoupling

Severing U.S.-Chinese Links Would Make It Impossible To Save The Environment

Without taking into account the risks posed by catastrophic, irreversible environmental damage, it might be possible to conclude that, on balance, decoupling from China would be in the best interests of the United States. But the most promising way to tackle climate change—the formation of a “climate club” of major economies that would use tariffs and other border adjustments to protect countries that meet emission targets and punish ones that do not—will require Washington to retain a degree of leverage over Beijing that can come only from continued engagement. Decoupling would make it almost impossible for the United States and its partners to create strong incentives for China to participate in a climate club and would thus scotch the best hope for preventing the worst-case scenarios of environmental devastation.

By Jeff D. Colgan. Foreign Affairs. September 14, 2020.

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