NCEW Recap: Increasing U.S. Competitiveness and Energy Security Through Trade

How can the United States leverage its trade policy to strengthen the competitive advantage of U.S. industries while reducing global greenhouse gas emissions? This was the question posed at a recent panel held during the National Clean Energy Week Policymakers Symposium. Xan Fishman of the Bipartisan Policy Center moderated a discussion between industry and policy leaders Catrina Rorke of the Climate Leadership Council, Sarah Stewart of Silverado Policy Accelerator, and George David Banks of CRES Forum, to discuss how American resources can play a significant role in shaping the future of global emissions.

It All Comes Down to Data   

“The United States leads the world in manufacturing goods with fewer carbon emissions than the global average,” said Catrina Rorke. Rorke and her team have found the United States holds a carbon advantage in certain sectors but that manufacturers have no policy incentives to encourage them to continue these practices. As other countries begin to enact emissions standards for trade, the U.S. must also begin highlighting its own high standards. With reforms directed at changing this, the panelists believe the U.S. can remain the policymaker rather than the policytaker. By passing legislation, such as the PROVE IT Act, which will help improve data around the carbon intensity of production for American goods, the U.S. will be better prepared to highlight the advances already made and set a framework for the future. Trade policies that factor in emissions can favor US production and exports, even from carbon intensive industries, resulting in decreases to global emissions.

Aligning Incentives  

Panelists agreed to maintain America’s competitive edge, the United States must implement policies that encourage countries to work together to achieve common climate goals. This is an issue both Republicans and Democrats have a vested interest in, according to George David Banks, a senior fellow at CRES Forum: “We want to create an international alliance to develop a common approach.”  A common approach like thiscan reign in Chinese influence over the global economy, restore key components of the supply chain, and bolster US manufacturing competitiveness. 

There is an intersection to be found that benefits both policy and strategic goals for the United States. “The trade and environment nexus is not new. However, the trade and climate nexus is,” said CEO and President of Silverado Policy Sarah Stewart. “We need to start doubling down on merging trade and climate to embrace new policies that benefit everyone.”  

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CRES Forum is the lead convener and a proud sponsor of National Clean Energy Week.

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