Climate Change and International Trade (Abstract Summary from Michelle Zang)
The nexus between climate change and international trade has been gradually re-defined in the last decades. The classic misunderstanding claiming mutual exclusiveness and regulatory conflict is replaced by the proposition that trade and trade policy could be the force multiplier for global climate adaption through the enforcement of the eco-trade measures and policies. The development of eco-trade measures and policies has mainly taken place unilaterally, bilaterally and regionally in that countries and governments have invested increasing significant efforts in developing such policies either domestically or through the concluding of free trade agreements.
In contrast, multilateral achievement at the WTO stays limited, except the newly concluded Agreement on Fisheries Subsidies and several ongoing discussion and initiatives among selected WTO Members.
As conclusion, it is argued the WTO remains the best forum for the making and enforcement of eco-trade policies as it has the capacity to maximize the effectiveness, transparency, and equality of such policies globally. However, given the daunting challenges faced in consensus-based multilateral rulemaking, the most plausible option is to develop updated and renewed interpretation and clarification of the relevant WTO rules and thus create space for the operation of the existing eco-trade policies within the WTO framework.
Author: Dr. Michelle Zang
Co-director of New Zealand Centre of International Economic Law Senior Lecturer in International Trade Law, Faculty of Law, Victoria University of Wellington