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Edited by Kevin P. Gallagher
Chapter 27: Redesigning the World’s Trading System for Environmentally Sustainable Development
27 Redesigning the world’s trading system for environmentally sustainable development Alejandro Nadal 1 Introduction In a relatively short period of time, human activity has brought the world to the brink of a major ecological disaster. One manifestation of this is a massive biotic crisis (Eldredge, 1998; Myers and Knoll, 2001; Wilson, 1993). The other is the anthropogenic impact on global average temperatures, with eﬀects on rising oceans, disruption of rainfall patterns, and extreme climate variability (Houghton et al., 2001; McCarthy et al., 2001). At the same time, social disparities and inequality mark the world’s social and economic landscape, at both the national and international levels (UNFPA, 2002; GPM, 2004). Economic performance in the past 30 years was marked by slower growth rates for higher- and middle-income countries, and modest growth rates for lower-income economies. Also, the ecological footprint of the richest countries is still unduly heavy. Although greenhouse gas emissions rates have been going down, absolute levels of emissions continue to increase. The absolute volume of natural resources used by developed countries continues to increase and material ﬂows’ analyses reveal the presence of environmental cost-shifting.2 The structure of world trade provides a sobering backdrop for the assessment of WTO performance. Although developing countries’ exports have increased, world trade remains heavily lopsided. Average trade deﬁcits for all developing countries during the 1990s were higher than those in the 1970s by three percentage points of GDP while growth rates were lower by two percentage points (UNCTAD, 2003). This has serious...
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