The Fragmentation of Global Climate Governance

The Fragmentation of Global Climate Governance

Consequences and Management of Regime Interactions

New Horizons in Environmental and Energy Law series

Harro van Asselt

‘How do the different international institutions addressing climate change interact? What are the actual and potential synergies and conflicts? What are the most effective strategies to manage institutional interplay? Harro van Asselt’s expertise in both international law and international relations, as well as his intimate knowledge of the policy-making process, make him ideally equipped to address these fundamental questions. Based on detailed case studies, he provides a wide-ranging, lucid, and theoretically sophisticated study of climate change governance. Essential reading for international lawyers and international relations scholars alike.’ – Dan Bodansky, Arizona State University, US

Chapter 8: The UN climate regime and the World Trade Organization

Harro van Asselt

Subjects: environment, climate change, environmental law, environmental politics and policy, law - academic, environmental law, international economic law, trade law, politics and public policy, environmental politics and policy, international relations


The last case study of this book examines the interactions between the UN climate regime and the World Trade Organization as a case of interactions between an international environmental regime and an international economic regime. Specifically, the chapter seeks to analyse the consequences of interactions between the climate and trade regimes and to examine different ways of managing the relationship between the two regimes. The chapter also aims to provide insights into options for dealing with one of the most politically sensitive issues at the intersection of the climate and trade regimes: unilateral climate-related trade measures. The close connection between greenhouse gas emissions and a wide array of economic activities necessitates the consideration of linkages between the climate and trade regimes. Despite the fact that many observers have discussed a possible clash between the two regimes, the multilateral trading system and the climate regime seem mutually supportive at first glance. However, this relationship is likely to change in the future due to the growing acknowledgement that abating climate change requires deeper emission cuts. More specifically, the use of unilateral climate-related trade measures by participants in the UN climate regime may lead to conflicts with the principles and rules of the WTO. Climate Change and TradeCurrent and projected human-induced climate variability is linked to economic patterns, which are responsible for the majority of greenhouse gas emissions.

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