Chapter 3: The law of the WTO and emissions trading
The World Trade Organization (WTO) rules represent an additional level of consideration for any domestic government introducing new economic measures. Nation states who agree to participate as WTO Members agree to be bound by the obligations of membership. This includes the requirement that governments of those states adhere to the rules as decided by WTO Members. The purpose of this chapter is to provide background information on the relationship between emissions trading and the WTO. In doing this, a broader picture is required of the convergence of trade and the environment, and more specifically, of trade and climate change. This chapter is divided into three substantive parts. The first part provides an overview of the formation and structure of the WTO. The current significance of the WTO in international law must be considered in light of its historical development. Its history both informs the purpose of the WTO and provides an understanding of the rules that Members accept as a condition of membership. With this in mind, my first task here is to place the WTO within the context of its development. The second part of this chapter explains the relevance of the law of the WTO to the emissions trading domestic schemes. Three arguments are advanced to demonstrate this relevance. First, it is suggested that domestic legal frameworks must comply with WTO law to ensure the ends pursued by the WTO continue to feature in the international political landscape.
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