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 7: Regional trade agreements and climate change

Rafael Leal-Arcas


This chapter proposes the introduction of a regional model for promoting climate change mitigation as an alternative to the present structure of the UNFCCC/Kyoto Protocol framework. Given the proliferation of regional trade agreements (RTAs) – especially in the form of bilateral treaties – in the international trading system, this chapter presents the innovative approach of creating RTAs with strong climate change chapters, thus embedding climate goals within bilateral/trilateral/plurilateral trade agreements. Involving major GHG emitters through RTAs and economic partnership agreements, with climate chapters included, can be an effective avenue towards reducing GHG emissions, and could therefore facilitate the ultimate goal of creating an effective global climate regime. This option may therefore be worth exploring. With the creation of the WTO in 1995, the pyramidal design of the international trading system placed multilateralism at the top of the pyramid, regionalism/bilateralism in the middle, and the domestic trade and economic policies of WTO Member States at the bottom of the pyramid. This chapter questions whether this vertical structure is still the case today, given the tremendous proliferation of RTAs in recent years and the fact that the WTO is losing its centrality in the international trading system.

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