WTO issues information briefs on trade, climate, related issues with COP26 talks underway

The WTO Secretariat has published five information briefs on trade, climate and related issues in support of efforts to harness trade policy as part of the solution for effective and just climate action.

The first information brief maps out trade policies notified by WTO members to address climate change. It notes that most of the 4,355 climate-related measures identified from 2009 to 2019 were notified under the Agreement on Subsidies and Countervailing Measures, the Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade, the Agreement on Agriculture and the Agreement on Import Licensing Procedures. The brief is available here.

The second provides information on climate change-related provisions in regional trade agreements (RTAs). It finds that although still relatively few in number when compared to other environmental objectives, explicit provisions on climate change have been increasing in RTAs, with cooperation on climate change mitigation and adaptation as the most common type of measure. It also finds that these provisions on climate change are complemented by other environmental provisions, including those that address renewable and alternative energy. The brief is available here.

The third, on trade resilience amid natural disasters, notes how the interdependence of the global economy and prevalence of international supply chains imply that damage to local infrastructure or productive capacity can result in diverse economic and trade impacts across sectors and borders. It provides an overview of the range of trade measures available to strengthen countries’ resilience to natural disasters and to mitigate their impact by supporting immediate response and recovery. The brief is available here.

The fourth examines carbon emissions associated with international trade, noting the varying ways trade can impact greenhouse gas emissions. It indicates international trade can reduce total emissions in cases where the difference of production emissions between exporting and importing countries exceeds transportation emissions. It further notes trade’s role in diffusing technology and how policy initiatives and advances in green technologies could bring a reduction in emissions linked to trade and transportation in the future. The brief is available here.

The fifth, a special chapter in the 2021 Report of the Global Center on Adaptation (GCA), focuses on how trade can support Africa’s efforts to adapt to a changing climate, particularly in agriculture. The role of trade in enabling climate adaptation is strongest in hunger-affected and import-dependent regions, such as Sub-Saharan Africa, the paper notes, as trade reduces agricultural prices and increases food availability. The brief is available here

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