How Donald Trump Could Spark a Trade War With Europe

If America walks away from its climate obligations, the consequences could be very expensive.

Brennan Linsley/AP

Let our journalists help you make sense of the noise: Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter and get a recap of news that matters.

For all his talk of renegotiating trade deals and cracking down on China, Donald Trump probably didn’t bargain for a trade war with the United States’ closest allies in Europe. But it’s not out of the question.

On Sunday, former French President Nicholas Sarkozy suggested imposing a carbon tax on US goods if Trump walks away from the Paris climate agreement. Sarkozy is currently competing for the presidential nomination of France’s center-right Republican party.

Under the Paris agreement, which went into effect earlier this month, countries pledged to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions in an effort to limit global warming to 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit above pre-industrial levels. During the campaign, Trump pledged to “cancel” the deal.

Sarkozy said that if Trump abandons the agreement, European countries should impose a 1-3 percent tax on American goods, according to the French newspaper Le Monde. The goal would be to protect European businesses that will be abiding by the global climate agreement from being undercut by US industries that won’t be subject to emissions limits.

It’s a striking position for Sarkozy, who sparked controversy earlier this year when he reportedly suggested that humans aren’t to blame for climate change.

More Mother Jones reporting on Climate Desk


Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

payment methods

We Recommend