The world trade organization and climate change challenges and options
Greening the World Trade Organization is an imperative to accompany the implementation of the Paris Agreement. Climate change remains a serious threat to mankind despite the moment of hope after the successful conclusion of the COP21 last December with the Paris Agreement. Promises given at COP21 to implement mitigation and adaptation measures are based on non-binding proposals causing doubt about what the signatory countries will really do about reducing their greenhouse gases GHG emissions.
There are several ways to tackle climate change, and break business-as-usual patterns through new technologies, a global carbon tax and greening the World Trade Organization WTO agreements. Alternative solutions are needed. An increasing number of environmen-talists are calling for a carbon tax to stop the frantic increase of life endangering externalities.
In view of globalisation, this would mean that goods have to be followed, checked and labeled from initial stage to final product stage. Still, a carbon tax is a laudable effort to bring about carbon truth.
Most of the poorest developing countries are not benefitting from global trade: The consequences include land erosion, desertification and inundation, which can lead to conflicts and migration. It is therefore essential that countries that cannot afford alternative green energy technologies can produce alternative green energy on their own, at home. In doing so, they can contribute to mitigation and adaptation rather than having to wait for eventual handouts such as capacity building support, trade preferences and special loan arrangements.
Moreover, the continued economic stagnation and the increasing costs of coping with mass migration and terrorism leads to developed countries cutting their aid to the poor developing countries and taking back some of the special preferences. Developing countries need a firm commitment by the wealthy industrialised countries that they will be given access to alternative green technology and related high tech innovations.
This could be done if we reconsider some of the basic rules of the WTO that govern intellectual property rights, investment measures and preferential market access rules and regulations. A green approach to the so-called TRIPS, the WTO Agreement on Trade-related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights, could provide a framework to support technology transfer into developing and least developed countries in order to promote the development of low carbon production to fight climate warming.
Brazil has called for a Doha Declaration on Climate Change, applying the same logic to the global public good of climate mitigation as was applied in the area of medicines to human health, namely taking full advantage of the flexibility within TRIPS to grant compulsory licenses to critical climate-friendly technologies.
Moreover, universities and public-private partnerships are beginning to voluntarily adopt alternative licensing solutions, such as including humanitarian or open licensing clauses within their licensing agreements.
The list of ideas goes on:. Many developing countries experienced TRIMS as a useful mechanism allowing them to temporarily protect their own industries in select sectors until they were ready to drop these measures. A second generation TRIMS agreement could be negotiated which could allow developing countries time to protect infant industry in the sector of carbon reduction technology and hence it could make it easier for them to commit to GHG reduction targets.
Applying green TRIMS could help developing countries learn how to apply and use green technology for climate change adaptation and mitigation. A reintroduction of TRIMS to support a new green TRIMS Agreement would ensure that green technology is produced fully or partially in the importing developing countries, either in commercial partnership with developed country patent holders or alone through their own abilities to innovate and create their own green technologies.
A green three-sector Plurilateral Agreement is a comprehensive solution to fight climate warming and to reduce poverty. This solution would consist of negotiated trade-offs across three domains of the WTO framework agreement, namely:.
Besides, the tensions between Multilateral Environmental Agreements MEAs and the multilateral, plurilateral and bilateral trade and investment agreements hinders the goal of achieving low carbon investment and low carbon economic activities. The principle of mutual supportiveness suggests that each international regime should take into account the scope and legal ramification of other agreements and ensure that treaty regimes are complementary not contradictory.
In addition, recurring crises linked to finance, food, energy and climate change have fuelled collective forms of coping, producing and provisioning food and energy at affordable prices as part of Social and Solidarity Economy SSE. A prominent feature of SSE is the possibility to craft new ways of producing and distributing food and other goods and services that are fairer for producers, healthier — and sometimes cheaper — for consumers, better for the planet and beneficial in terms of social or community cohesion.
The UN Inter-Agency Task Force on Social and Solidarity Economy considers that SSE holds considerable promise for addressing the economic, social and environmental objectives and integrated approaches inherent in the concept of sustainable development as defined by the SDG agenda.
A greening of the WTO framework is needed to reduce barriers to the global trade of environmental goods and services and concomitantly make access to green technology possible and affordable for developing countries that have to cope with the negative consequences of climate change as do developed countries. However, the developing countries and particularly the LDCs are severely hampered by their scarce financial resources and lack of access to green technology.
In the public interest, giving developing countries concessions through green TRIPS, green TRIMs and a green tri-sector plurilateral should be linked to requesting developing countries to make Intended Nationally Determined Contributions INDCs commitments to effectively implement the Paris Agreement as fast as possible for the good of all countries and their citizens.
A comprehensive understanding of their interconnection and how to make use of trade policy instruments in ramping up climate action can therefore be seen as a crucial element of successful climate diplomacy. Regional trade deals are often met with negativity by green groups because of potential contradictions with climate policy. But rather than focusing solely on what is wrong with the trade system, the debate should also focus on how governments could try to shape trade agreements to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement.
Dhanasree Jayaram argues that it will help India in leveraging its stature as a responsible global player to expand its sphere of influence. On 22 March on the occasion of the World Water Day, the EU called on all States to fulfil their obligations regarding access to safe drinking water without discrimination.
High Representative Frederica Mogherini reaffirmed that water was not only a "driver of social and economic development but also of peace and security".
She stressed that the availability of water was one of the key factors that can lead to conflicts and mass displacements and that climate change was taking a toll on the drier areas of the planet.
Resolving environmental conflicts is important for creating and sustaining peace. But the connections between environmental problems and social or political conflicts are complex. The ECC Factbook investigates climate-security links and offers a detailed, interactive map to explore more than case studies. The editorial team is happy to announce 5 new features that make it even easier to access relevant information.
Skip to main content. A project by adelphi. COP 21 implementation Climate change remains a serious threat to mankind despite the moment of hope after the successful conclusion of the COP21 last December with the Paris Agreement. A carbon tax An increasing number of environmen-talists are calling for a carbon tax to stop the frantic increase of life endangering externalities. Greening WTO agreements Developing countries need a firm commitment by the wealthy industrialised countries that they will be given access to alternative green technology and related high tech innovations.
The list of ideas goes on: Green plurilateral PTA A green three-sector Plurilateral Agreement is a comprehensive solution to fight climate warming and to reduce poverty. This solution would consist of negotiated trade-offs across three domains of the WTO framework agreement, namely: The trade system and climate action: Are trade agreements good or bad for the climate? Alex Kirby, Climate News Network.
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