How the WTO Can Help Address Climate Change
Elgar International Economic Law series
THE PROBLEM OF TRADE AND CLIMATE CHANGE It seems that new reports come out monthly about the urgency with which climate change must be addressed. The reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) are perhaps the most famous calls to action but certainly not the only, or most extreme, ones. Climate change is already negatively affecting species and natural systems.1 These reports suggest major acceleration of such effects if action is not taken. Leaders of large and small countries recently converged on Copenhagen, citing the need for policies and plans and some form of multilateral agreement to replace the Kyoto Protocol. The current debate is about how quickly action is needed and what will be most effective in reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) concentrations and the impact of climate change on the environment, including humans. Unfortunately, despite the scientific consensus and the apparent political recognition of the need to cooperate to reach a solution, action has fallen far short of what scientists claim is needed to reduce the probability of dangerous impacts on the planet and human civilization. In this debate international trade and ‘globalization’ seem often characterized as a key source of the problem. However, we believe that this is both wrong and unhelpful – that there are important ways in which both trade and action on climate policy can work together to reduce the risks from climate change and to foster development. Most obviously perhaps, the movement of goods itself by ships, rail and truck creates GHG emissions....
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