The trade system and climate action : ways forward under the Paris Agreement

Droege, Susanne and van Asselt, Harro and Das, Kasturi and Mehling, Michael (2017) The trade system and climate action : ways forward under the Paris Agreement. South Carolina Journal of International Law & Business, 13 (2). pp. 195-277. ISSN 1936-4334

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The Paris Agreement has established a new international framework for the parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) from 2020 onwards. Climate policy will be based on national contributions to mitigation, adaptation, and financial, technological, and capacity-building support. At the international level, regular reviews of national efforts will help strengthen transparency and are expected to drive national ambitions to meet the goal of keeping the global average temperature increase below two degrees Celsius, compared to pre-industrial levels. In order to achieve success, this new regime needs support from other policy regimes. The trade policy agenda is among the most important because trade liberalization can, on the one hand, promote the uptake of climate-friendly goods and services and foster the deployment of clean technologies; however, on the other hand, national climate policy measures can collide with trade rules due to conflicting principles and priorities. This article reviews the interactions between climate and trade policy by providing an overview of the two regimes, focusing on legal and political dimensions. In particular, we assess the interactions between the climate regime’s policy measures with the trade regime of the WTO, as well as aspects that emerge from RTAs. We focus on the question of how the international trade regime could support efforts in tackling climate change.