March 17, 2009 / 6:06 PM / 11 years ago

US should consider duties on polluting nations-Chu

By Ayesha Rascoe

WASHINGTON, March 17 (Reuters) - Once the United States develops a system limiting carbon emissions, the government should consider placing tariffs on some imports from countries that do not place a price on carbon, U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu said on Tuesday.

Chu said if other countries do not impose a cost on carbon the United States will be at a disadvantage, and ultimately all countries bear the burden of emissions.

"If country X doesn’t do this then I think we should look at considering perhaps duties that would offset that cost," Chu said at a hearing before the House Science and Technology Committee.

Chu said this is just one proposal the administration should evaluate and that he was hopeful that developing countries with growing economies such as China and India would take steps to reduce their emissions.

China’s greehhouse gas emissions are now thought to be around the levels of those in the United States, which has led the world in emissions.

U.S. President Barack Obama is pushing Congress to develop a system that would cap carbon emissions and require companies to purchase permits to release greenhouse gases.

Some lawmakers have raised concerns about the impact a cap and trade program would have on consumers during a recession and how industries will handle the additional costs.

Chu said a climate change bill would undoubtedly raise energy costs for consumers. Under Obama’s budget proposal most of the revenue raised from auctioning emission permits would go toward tax breaks for American families to counteract higher energy prices.

A Chinese official said on Monday that any global plan to reduce greenhouse gases should hold countries that buy Chinese goods responsible for the carbon dioxide emitted by factories that make them.

"About 15 percent to 25 percent of China’s emissions come from the products which we make for the world, which should not be taken by us," said Gao Li, director of China’s Department of Climate Change. (Reporting by Ayesha Rascoe; editing by Jim Marshall)

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