Climate, Equity and Global Trade

Brief
Date period
25 December 2007

SummaryThe steadily growing volume of global trade is forcing policymakers to start taking a hard look at its climate impact, while keeping equity and development issues as top priority. The climate implications of export-led growth in emerging economies, the potential barriers that intellectual property may pose for access to clean technologies in developing countries, the possibility of carbon leakage between countries with stringent versus lax climate regulations, and the carbon footprint of the emerging trade opportunities in niche markets for low income countries are at the core of the debate. In the WTO, climate change concerns have also been explicitly referred to in the context of ongoing negotiations on environmental goods and services.

As trade policies and tools are being considered to achieve climate change objectives, there is a fundamental need to ensure that countries that have least contributed to the problem of climate change are not made to pay an unfair price for its solution. Similarly, when incentive measures are being considered in the trade system, it is essential to ensure that these will be relevant to countries that are already experiencing the effects of climate change, such a flooding, droughts and declines in productivity and trading potential.

This set of issue briefs - produced by leading thinkers in research institutes, international organisations and independent non-governmental organisations - was put together by ICTSD with a view to look beyond some of the rhetoric in the debate on trade and climate change, and to identify some of the emerging issues from an equity and development perspective.