Climate Change and International Trade
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Climate Change and International Trade

Rafael Leal-Arcas

Rafael Leal-Arcas expertly examines the interface of climate change mitigation and international trade law with a view to addressing the question: How can we make best use of the international trading system experience to aim at a global climate change agreement?
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Chapter 3: Environmental protection and the international trade system

Rafael Leal-Arcas


The purpose of this chapter is to provide a historical perspective of how international trade and environmental law have collaborated until now. It narrates the debate on how to reconcile environmental and economic objectives. It also examines tensions between trade and climate change mitigation, including unilateral trade-related climate change measures, which are discussed later in the chapter. The trade and environment regimes evolved separately with different goals. Whilst trade rules aimed to eliminate protectionism and promote free and globalized trade, environmental measures sought to facilitate conservation or protection of the environment and its basic components. The goals of the international trade and environment regimes have clashed in many aspects: environmentalists argue that free trade will eliminate or limit the protection of the environment and cause negative environmental effects, whilst free traders claim that environmental measures will most likely close the market. Much has been written about this significant and ongoing interaction between trade and the environment since the early 1990s.

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