Shifting to a cleaner energy mix is essential to keep the average global temperature rise below 2-degrees Celsius from pre-industrial levels as highlighted by the latest IPCC report. In order to achieve this, costs of renewable energy have to come down and markets need to be strengthened so as to allow for a scale-up of innovation, production, and deployment of sustainable energy technologies. Trade policy has an important role to play in this respect.
The past few years have seen significant political momentum toward bringing down trade barriers in some of the relevant clean energy goods. Examples include the APEC initiative to reduce tariffs on a list of environmental goods, US President Barack Obama’s Climate Action Plan, and the launch of trade negotiations on an Environmental Goods Agreement (EGA) in July this year by 14 like-minded WTO members.
The launch of EGA negotiations offers a timely opportunity for trade to effectively contribute to climate action if delegations involved identify, include, and prioritise climate-friendly goods as a first deliverable. The initiative has the potential to offer a much-needed impetus in the climate negotiations and lay the groundwork for a positive, collaborative and constructive spirit in the lead up to COP 21 in Paris in December 2015.
Against this background, ICTSD and The Guarini Center of NYU Law convened a dialogue during Climate Week NYC and on the sidelines of the Secretary-General's Climate Summit. The purpose of the event was to explore the potential of the EGA negotiations to foster trade as a tool for enhancing climate action and to discuss how this could help support climate negotiations towards Lima and Paris.
The fostered a forward-looking, action-oriented discussion between government representatives, business leaders and key experts.