Studies in Policy Choices and Interactions
Critical Issues in Environmental Taxation series
Edited by Larry Kreiser, Mikael S. Andersen, Birgitte E. Olsen, Stefan Speck, Janet E. Milne and Hope Ashiabor
Chapter 10: Environmental border tax adjustments (BTAs): a forgotten history
Environmental border tax adjustments (BTAs) – and in particular border carbon adjustments (BCAs) – are regularly discussed as one possible solution in mitigating global environmental challenges, including climate change. The legal scholarship on environmental BTAs usually focuses on the compatibility of these measures with the provisions of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) and World Trade Organization (WTO) law. This chapter takes a different approach: the objective is to analyse environmental BTAs in light of the ‘traditional concept’ of non-environmentally specific BTAs. The main hypothesis of this chapter is that the legal analysis of environmental BTAs should better take into consideration the history of traditional BTAs and the legal principles on which this concept relies. In this short chapter, the concept of ‘environmental BTAs’ is used to refer to a broad range of environmental measures that have been studied since the 1990s under a variety of names. These concepts include: ‘BTA of environmental taxes’, ‘border adjustments on energy taxes’, ‘border carbon adjustments’ or ‘carbon-added tax’, etc. This chapter relies on the assumption that environmental BTA studies and proposals have been developed on the basis of the older international trade law concept of BTA.
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