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Responsible Trade Program and Climate Change

Question: The current trade model contributes to climate change?
Answer: You bet!

Instead of helping the nations of the world curb global warming, our current trade rules have institutionalized unsustainable production and consumption patterns world-wide. These rules have allowed companies to move operations to wherever labor and environmental standards are the weakest, abandoning communities and workers in the U.S. and wreaking havoc on those abroad.

Container ship.

Now, as we embark on the path towards a green energy economy and the price of energy increases in the U.S., carbon intensive industry will again be tempted to relocate to countries with less stringent climate protection measurers. However, such relocation from the U.S. to countries abroad would result in not only increased emissions globally (just polluting in different places), but also more job losses in the U.S.

To ensure that our climate policy not only safeguards the environment, but maintains and generates jobs, the Sierra Club and our diverse coalition of partners supports the following solutions:

  • Trade rules and the institutions that enforce them must allow systematic exceptions for climate protection measures that might otherwise violate trade rules.
  • The implementation of a U.S. national cap and auction system wherein pollution permits are auctioned and revenue from auctions is used for the public good.
  • Safeguards within U.S. climate legislation that prevent companies in energy-intensive industries from closing their U.S. facilities and moving to countries without climate protection measures.
  • The achievement of a forward looking energy policy which would begin to phase-out the fossil fuels and phase-in clean and safe renewable energy such as solar, wind, and biomass while increasing energy efficiency in homes, commercial buildings and vehicles.
  • The establishment of measures to prevent increased illegal logging, including commerce rules curtailing the sale, shipment or trade in illegally harvested timber products.
  • Support for the development of clean energy jobs including training for workers to assist in the transition to renewable energy technologies as well as government procurement measures that prioritize the use of locally produced products, local labor, and payment of prevailing wages.

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