Research Handbooks in Intellectual Property series
Edited by Joshua D. Sarnoff
Chapter 14: Climate change innovation, products and services under the GATT/WTO system
The original General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) was negotiated decades before climate change was recognized as a global sustainable development challenge. During the Uruguay Round (1986–1994), the World Trade Organization (WTO) agreements were negotiated and drafted without a consideration of climate change issue in mind. In recent years WTO members have failed to reach an agreement on items that were built into the agenda of future negotiations by the Uruguay Round negotiators (such as services). Emerging issues such as the overlap between trade and climate change regrettably have not been addressed. Yet, only a multilateral agreement on climate change can minimize the ‘competitiveness’ concerns (to maintain profits and market shares) associated with divergent national approaches to mitigating or adapting to climate change and the consequent business migration that may flow to less restrictive jurisdictions. In the absence of a binding multilateral agreement, climate change measures create competitiveness problems. In view of the current lack of consensus in reaching a global agreement to replace the Kyoto Protocol (Kyoto Protocol) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), this chapter attempts to identify how the WTO rules and some selected US trade rules (and any corresponding rules in other countries) may be implicated by current and proposed policies. Such policies include carbon taxes, border tax adjustments, emission trading schemes, technical regulations aimed at promoting the use of climate friendly goods, financial mechanisms that promote climate friendly goods and technologies.
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