A Legal Analysis of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement
Edited by Tania Voon
Chapter 10: The Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement, the environment and climate change
The trade and environment relationship is complex and presents both challenges and opportunities. For instance, trade can lead to increased economic efficiency, productivity and growth. But economic growth can result in increased consumption of non-renewable resources and greater environmental harms, such as increasing air pollution and worsening water quality. On the other hand, increased economic growth can generate the resources to address environmental damage and provide a pathway for countries to transition out of polluting industries into more service-oriented ones that are less polluting and damaging to the environment. Trade agreements can also strengthen the capacity for governments to respond to environmental concerns. For instance, reducing trade barriers on environmental goods can reduce the costs of green technologies, thereby supporting efforts to address global challenges such as climate change. International trade can also be a pathway for the transmission of weaker environmental policies from one country to another. For instance, a countryís lax environmental standards that fail to internalise the social costs of environmental harms, such as pollution from the production of goods, can provide an unfair competitive advantage to its exports, raising concerns that this will create economic and political pressures in the importing country to also lower their environmental standards. Additionally, a number of environmental harms, such as illegal logging and overfishing, can be magnified by international trade, which expands the market for these goods. Yet trade agreements can be used to reinforce existing rules prohibiting trade in these products, thereby strengthening conservation efforts.
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