15 December 2009

As TNI was going to press, thousands of government officials, scientists and activists had descended on Copenhagen, Denmark, for the 2009 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP15). Expectations for COP 15 were significantly dampened in the lead up to the conference. The road to Copenhagen has featured a string of lacklustre meetings that failed to considerably advance the agenda. This, of course, is of special concern for African, Caribbean and Pacific countries, many of which face dire repercussions from climate change.

Yet, as our first guest contributor, Vinaye Dey Ancharaz, remarks, "Africa's woes go beyond environmental concerns. Most LDCs are, in fact, more concerned with day-to-day survival than with climate change." Thus addressing climate change in the developing world must go hand-in-hand with promoting development; the two cannot be viewed in isolation. In this issue of TNI, we examine how trade policy can both promote economic development and address the daunting challenges posed by climate change.

Three sectors of key importance to ACP countries are under particular threat from climate change: agriculture, tourism and fisheries.  On these pages, three guest experts-Jodie Keane, Keith Nurse and Paulo Ghisu- outline what is at stake in these sectors, before describing how trade measures can address the challenges.

Of course, trade policies alone are insufficient: considerable amounts of financing are also necessary if trade is to bolster resilience to climate change. In this regard, Vinaye Dey Ancharaz, a senior lecturer at the University of Mauritius, argues in favour of a complimentary approach to aid for trade and climate change financing. As Ancharaz explains, many climate change-related projects, which are desperately in need of funding, have clear trade-related impacts.

Addressing climate change also presents economic opportunities. Sub-Saharan Africa's emerging renewable energy industry, for example, has vast market potential. Yet liberalization of the renewable energy sector needs to be pursued with care, write Stephen Karekezi, John Kimani, and Oscar Onguru of the Energy, Environment and Development Network for Africa.  As experience in a number of African countries has demonstrated, liberalization has the potential to strangle infant energy industries.

Also on the topic of renewable energy, Fredrik Erixon, Director at the European Centre for International Political Economy (ECIPE), argues that the Europe's Renewable Energy Directive, which mandates that biofuels must meet certain greenhouse gas savings in order to qualify for a tax-excise exemption, is likely in breach of WTO rules.

Of course, COP 15 is not the only big news this month. After many years in the making, the European Union's Lisbon Treaty finally entered into force on December 1st.  As we discussed in our October issue, the Lisbon Treaty has potentially wide-ranging implications for ACP-EU relations.  This month, TNI has invited Stephen Woolcock, an expert on trade and investment policy at the London School of Economics, to explain how the Lisbon Treaty will affect EU's international trade policy.

Rounding out our final issue of 2009, we feature a summary of a new study by Damien Lagandré, Jean-Pierre Rolland and Arlène Alpha of Gret, which found that a significant portion of FTAs demonstrate considerable variability with respect transition periods and the percentage of tariff lines that are liberalized. The study strengthens the argument that developing countries should be able to demand flexibilities in these areas in FTA negotiations with developed countries.

As always, we invite feedback and offers to contribute articles. These can be addressed to Damon Vis-Dunbar at dvisdunbar@ictsd.ch.

From the editorial team at ECDPM and ICTSD, we wish you a festive season.

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