Reconciling Trade and Climate

Reconciling Trade and Climate

How the WTO Can Help Address Climate Change

Elgar International Economic Law series

Tracey Epps and Andrew Green

This timely book addresses the interaction between policies addressing climate change and the rules of the WTO. The authors expertly examine the law and economics behind the application of trade rules in the area of climate, including the implications of WTO rules for domestic climate measures, the unilateral use of trade measures to attempt to force other countries to take climate action, and the role of trade measures in multilateral climate agreements. The book argues that while there is a possibility of conflict between international trade rules and progress on climate change, it need not be the case. Thus the major focus is on the ways in which trade measures can aid in addressing climate change.

Chapter 12: Dismantling Roadblocks

Tracey Epps and Andrew Green

Subjects: environment, climate change, law - academic, international economic law, trade law


Thus far we have considered the scope for unilateral trade measures to be used as ‘carrots’. Trade measures may also be used by one country to dismantle roadblocks that are preventing other countries from participating in and/or complying with a climate change agreement. Here we identify four roadblocks. First, most developing countries lack the technical and financial capacity to implement mitigation measures. Second, many countries see the costs of action as outweighing the benefits. Developing countries in particular have an overriding imperative to promote economic growth and development, and to the extent that these goals are considered incompatible with climate change mitigation activities, they are unlikely to be willing participants in a climate change agreement that requires them to take such action. Third are equity and justice issues that lead developing countries to argue that developed countries must take the primary responsibility to reduce emissions. Fourth, there are concerns in both developed and developing countries about a loss of international competitiveness should domestic measures (such as regulations or taxes) be implemented to reduce GHG emissions. Trade measures are not likely to play a significant role in dismantling the first three roadblocks. Nevertheless, it is important to consider them as part of the broader context within which trade measures might be used. 12.1 LACK OF CAPACITY Many developing countries simply do not have the economic or technical capacity that would allow them to take measures necessary to reduce GHG emissions.1 The Kyoto Protocol’s Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) has an important role...

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