The World Trade Organization and Human Rights

The World Trade Organization and Human Rights

Interdisciplinary Perspectives

Edited by Sarah Joseph, David Kinley and Jeff Waincymer

This collection of essays from leading academics examines the connection between the World Trade Organization (WTO) and human rights issues, a topic which has provoked significant debate, particularly in the decade since the collapsed WTO talks in Seattle in 1999.

Chapter 13: Energy Security, Economic Development and Climate Change: Carbon Markets and the WTO

Graciela Chichilnisky

Subjects: economics and finance, international economics, law - academic, human rights, international economic law, trade law, politics and public policy, human rights


Graciela Chichilnisky 1. INTRODUCTION At a time when China and India are flexing their geopolitical muscles and the developing countries rapidly increase energy use, the world faces the environmental consequences of a long and successful period of Western industrialization. Two centuries of industrialization based on fossil fuels emitted large amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and created a serious risk of climate change. For many the results are unfolding in front of our eyes. Entire towns in Alaska are sinking in the melting permafrost and warming seas1 and Florida is the next most vulnerable US site.2 It is widely accepted that catastrophic change could happen, and the possibility by itself calls for action. Yet the thirst for fossil fuels continues unabated across the world. China is building a new coal plant every two weeks, and the US consumer uses more energy than ever, facing the highest oil prices since the OPEC embargoes in the 1970s and 1980s.3 An understandable desire for energy independence creates a powerful incentive to use abundant coal resources in China as well as in the US, so as to meet the rapidly growing need for energy.4 W Yardley, ‘Engulfed by Climate Change, Town Seeks Lifeline’ New York Times, 27 May 2007, 1. The permanently frozen subsoil, known as permafrost, upon which the town of Newtok and many other Native Alaskan villages rest is melting, yielding to warming air temperatures and a warming ocean. Erosion has already made Newtok an island, the village is now below...

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