Designing border carbon adjustments for enhanced climate action

Mehling, Michael A. and van Asselt, Harro and Das, Kasturi and Dröge, Susanne and Verkuijl, Cleo (2019) Designing border carbon adjustments for enhanced climate action. American Journal of International Law, 113 (3). pp. 433-481. ISSN 2161-7953 (

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The Paris Agreement advances a heterogeneous approach to international climate cooperation. Such an approach may be undermined by leakage—the displacement of emissions from states with more to less stringent climate policy constraints. Border carbon adjustments (BCAs) offer a promising response to leakage, but they also raise concerns about their compatibility with international trade law. This Article provides a comprehensive analysis of border carbon adjustments and proposes a way to design them that balances legal, administrative, and environmental considerations.