United States Trade Representative Katherine Tai on Thursday advocated using trade policy to tackle climate change and dedicated her first address in her new position to addressing one of President Biden’s top priorities.
“For too long, the traditional trade community has opposed the view that trade policy is a legitimate tool to solve the climate crisis,” said Ms. Tai after preparing remarks for a virtual event by the Center for American Progress.
“As we have seen so often with work problems, there is some recourse to arguing that this is all a domestic policy issue and that we don’t have to face the daunting task of reaching international consensus on new rules,” she said. “But this outdated way of thinking only perpetuates the gap between the lived experiences – and expectations – of real people on the one hand and trade experts on the other.”
In her remarks, Ms. Tai spoke of the need to tackle illegal logging and overfishing. And she made an argument as to why it is important to address environmental issues through trade deals.
“For too long we have believed that trade liberalization would gradually improve environmental protection as countries get richer from increased trade,” she said. “The reality, however, is that the system itself creates an incentive to compete by maintaining lower standards. Or worse, by lowering those standards even further. “
Ms. Tai’s speech comes a week before Mr. Biden is due to receive the world’s leaders at a virtual climate summit. Her speech is yet another example of how the Biden government is trying to tackle climate change in the federal government’s vast machinery – not just in agencies typically associated with environmental stewardship.
Mr Biden signed an executive order in January declaring the climate “an essential element of US foreign policy and national security,” and his spending proposal for fiscal year 2022 calls for billions in new climate-related spending by the federal government.