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First-of-its-kind EU tariff may inspire change in the US: 'Level the playing field for American workers'

"Finding a way to reconcile their approach and our approach … would make sense."

"Finding a way to reconcile their approach and our approach … would make sense."

Photo Credit: iStock

The European Union took a historic step in early October by approving the world's first carbon tariff, and the ripple effects could significantly reduce the amount of harmful heat-trapping gases released into our atmosphere. 

According to Kristoffer Tigue of Inside Climate News, companies exporting certain products into the EU are now required to report all toxic gases associated with them. 

Beginning in 2026, cement, electricity, hydrogen fuel, steel, iron, aluminum, and fertilizers that don't adhere to the EU's emissions standards will be taxed when entering the bloc. 

"[The tariff] is about protecting the EU's climate ambition — and seeking to raise the level of climate ambition worldwide," European Economy Commissioner Paolo Gentiloni told Reuters. 

The EU, which intends to reduce harmful pollution by 55% by 2030, hopes that foreign companies will now be motivated to invest in more energy-efficient technology because the tariff will reduce the price difference between their own products and foreign products.

Some major companies and the United States have already begun making adjustments and passing laws to help curb harmful pollution. The overheating of our planet due to heat-trapping gases is contributing in part to dangerous weather events, so many pro-environment advocates are hopeful the U.S. will take inspiration from the EU.  

The exact amount of bipartisan cooperation is unclear, but there are signs of support across the political spectrum. 

"As the EU, which is our largest trading bloc that shares our core values, gets closer and closer to imposing tariffs on American products because of their carbon border adjustment mechanism, finding a way to reconcile their approach and our approach … would make sense," Sen. Chris Coons, a Democrat from Delaware, told E&E News by Politico in March prior to the EU's approval of the tariff. 

As Tigue detailed, the "PROVE IT Act," a bipartisan effort introduced in August, would open a study by the Department of Energy to determine the possible implementation of a carbon tariff. 

Several months earlier, Republican Sen. Bill Cassidy of Louisiana suggested a pollution fee with the hope of sparking the U.S. economy, arguing it would "level the playing field for American workers" by keeping jobs at home. 

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, a Democrat from Rhode Island, had previously shared similar sentiments while also highlighting the positive impact on the environment, per E&E News.

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