Education International
Education International

Trade rules and climate change

published 12 November 2009 updated 12 November 2009

Experts are warning that WTO trade rules could affect some measures that countries are taking to combat climate change.

At a session at this year’s WTO Public Forum co-organized by Friends of the Earth Europe and the Centre for International Environmental Law, panellists debated the question of whether regulations intended to reduce greenhouse gas emissions violate WTO law.

Panellists generally agreed that most climate-change measures would probably be consistent with WTO law if applied in a non-discriminatory manner, but some policies and measures that have been taken are less clear.

Some experts believe that Border Carbon Adjustment (BCA) polices, where a country imposes charges on goods imported from countries considered to have weaker emissions standards, could be at risk under trade rules.

The issue of climate change and trade has become the focus of much debate in the run-up a major international meeting in Copenhagen later this year, when climate negotiators will try to reach a new global deal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.