It’s likely that you’ve had conversations with someone, or seen a commentator on TV, who believes that the United States should not need to restrict carbon release simply because we are no longer the largest source of carbon dioxide. That point may have been part of the reason that President Trump pulled the United States out of the Paris Accord.
While it’s true that China has passed the US in terms of total annual carbon release, it’s also a fact that because the average Chinese uses much less energy than his American counterpart, he has a much smaller per capita carbon release.
Furthermore, the effect of carbon dioxide on climate is based on the total amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Because the US has been emitting for some many years, we are responsible for more of the atmospheric carbon than any other country, including China. In fact, the US has released about the same amount of carbon as the combined total of 28 countries in the EU, including Great Britain.
For more details, see the New York Times article entitled “The U.S. Is the Biggest Carbon Polluter in History. It Just Walked Away From the Paris Climate Deal” by clicking here.
It also is considered a way to prevent American companies whose manufacturing processes emit heavy amounts of carbon pollution from relocating to countries with looser environmental rules, a phenomenon known as leakage. Under the Democratic proposal, a tariff starting in 2024 would apply to roughly 12 percent of imports coming into the United States.