walter russell mead peter berger lilia shevtsova adam garfinkle andrew a. michta
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Global Greens Spark Trade War

China and Europe have been butting heads this week over Europe’s new environmental regulations for aviation. The Wall Street Journal reports that China is putting orders for 45 Airbus planes by Chinese airliners on hold, costing the European manufacturer $12 billion in revenue. While the Chinese haven’t made any direct statements to this effect, most believe the move is retaliation for the EU’s new carbon-trading scheme, which would require all carriers traveling to EU locations to purchase “carbon offsets” at great cost to make up for their planes’ carbon usage.

For those still clinging to vain hopes for the green agenda, let this be a sign. China is not interested in trading economic gain for lower CO2 emissions, and it even seems to prefer economic conflict with Europe to an environmentally friendly hit to its bottom line. Greens had hoped that the establishment of a carbon-trading system in Europe would inspire the rest of the world to follow suit; now it looks like the result may be an international trade war instead.

The global green folly continues.

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  • Kenny

    It is good to see other forces in the world fight each other without the U.S. being in the middle or forced to mediate.

    It makes balancing easier, heh, Mr. Mead.

  • http://knownofold.blogspot.com J R Yankovic

    As I see it, Beijing’s reaction is entirely to be expected. Obviously it doesn’t mean the hardnosed Chinese are any wiser concerning the real prospects of environmental degradation than the softheaded Europeans. Nor, so far as I can see, does it it matter which crackbrained extreme of the spectrum either of them occupies: Both have long since forgotten what I suspect we’re all going to have to re-learn at some point (at least if we’re planning to be serious about a solid and lasting recovery) – namely, that both productive economic activity and real environmental safety are ultimately about the flourishing of HUMAN persons, and not just of the corporate or other organizational (or technological?) varieties we’ve been busy inventing, fine-tuning or “perfecting.”

    Besides, who knows if this isn’t yet one more Euro-Chinese small blessing (or favor?) in disguise, for which we might want to be grateful? I’ll confess: I don’t want Europe and China getting too close together on much of anything. And least of all anything involving some new “Silk Road” or other grand project of bridging or annihilating overland distance between the two “great civilizations.” Particularly if it requires – as our own American experience of “frontierization” would suggest – the German, Turan-, Taliban- or “Tibetan”-ization of the various, more or less vulnerable peoples that lie in between (all no doubt aided and abetted by those ever-clueless and self-destructive Russians). After all, destabilized overland frontiers, if I remember correctly, don’t exactly bring out the most humane or civilized sides of either encroachers or encroached upon. In other words, if you think the American version of Manifest Destiny was a unique and unrepeatable Hell on Wheels for many of those involved, you might want to suspend judgment till you see the Euro-Asian version. Not that I hope any of us ever do.

    Neither do I want Europe and China to be enemies – even of the trading kind. But I would like to see as many of their mutual dealings as possible MEDIATED as much as possible by (what I hope is) an emerging Trans-Atlanto-Pacific Partnership. Stretching from, say, Britain, France and Scandinavia on the west, all the way to Japan, Australia and India on the east. One into which mainland China could eventually be drawn, or “magnetized.” But all more or less facing seawards, rather than landwards. Call it a superstition or paranoia of mine. It’s just that I think there’s something about CROSSING AN OCEAN, even in cyberspace (as opposed to “just rolling right into” Texas or California or Poland), that helps to keep us all safe from the wrong kinds of presumption. That helps to remind all of us that, however much we may love – or at least love to trade with – each other, Them is not (merely) THE SAME as Us, nor is Us (merely) the same as Them.

    Oh dear. I really have gone far afield, haven’t I (even for me). As always, thanks for putting up with me.

  • http://knownofold.blogspot.com J R Yankovic

    Sorry – knew I got my directions crossed at par. 3. I meant to say: A Trans-Atlanto-Pacific Partnership stretching from Britain, etc, on the EAST, all the way to Japan, etc on the WEST. Thereby including – indeed, positioning centrally – both the US and Canada.

  • Corlyss

    Go China!! Hang in there! The fate of your major customers depends on your hard-headedness, in which characteristic our countries are so lacking.

  • Daran

    As a European I approve of this Chinese action. The most important driver for this CO2 policy is the desire of the EU bureaucracy to have their own revenue streams so they can be even less accountable to the member states and the EU population.

  • Kris

    I am deeply offended by this European Carbo-Imperialism! (And indeed, this development was entirely predictable to anyone with half a brain. [Insert obvious crack at the expense of Greens.])

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