View this email in your browser

The Environmental Potential of Free Trade

Free trade is often rejected by the environmental community.

The most recent proposal, the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), is no different. In December, nine environmental groups, including Earthjustice, the Sierra Club, and the Natural Resources Defense Council, penned a letter urging lawmakers to reject the agreement. 

These groups are primarily worried that production will be outsourced to countries will lower regulatory standards (the "race to the bottom" hypothesis). The reverse, however, is also possible — domestic production can just as easily displace less efficient production elsewhere, meaning lower impacts overall.

For example, USMCA expands Canada’s import quotas for US dairy by over 100% for a number of products. The US produces milk with less carbon than Canada does, so displacing Canadian dairy with that of the US could be a big environmental win. 

Of course, liberalization won't be environmentally beneficial for all countries and for all goods. But we shouldn't rule out free trade as an important addition to the climate toolkit.
A global decarbonization project >>>
Caroline Grunewald on decarbonizing dairy

When I started researching the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), I was surprised at how difficult it was to find any environmental analyses on the liberalization of specific goods, such as US dairy products. I was even more surprised to hear silence from environmental organizations on the topic of which goods should be liberalized.

This omission is a pretty glaring oversight. Dan and I wrote “The Environmental Potential of Free Trade” to show why policymakers should build efficiency goals into trade agreements and why environmental organizations should chime in about the specific goods liberalized by trade deals like USMCA. Otherwise, we risk leaving environmental benefits on the table or, worse, generating unintended consequences.

A few ways to join our team
We're hiring! Check out our job board to find open positions for Operations Director and Nuclear Senior Analyst.
We're also excited to announce that applications for the annual summer Breakthrough Fellowship are open, due on Feb 11, 2020, at 11:59pm PT. Recent graduates and postgrads are invited to apply to join our research team for ten weeks this summer. Find all the details here.
📚This is what we're reading this week 📚
The new climate bill from House Democrats aims for net-0 emissions by 2050.

The Chinese market presents a different set of political and cultural hurdles that American plant-based meat brands have found difficult to overcome.

Los Angeles to build world's largest wildlife bridge across a 10-lane freeway.

The Breakthrough Institute
436 14th Street, Suite 820
Oakland, CA 94612
(510) 550-8800

Don't want to receive further news from Breakthrough? Unsubscribe