Climate Change and Clean Energy in the 2030 Agenda: What Role for the Trade System?

Date period
26 October 2016

The United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, adopted in September 2015, includes Sustainable Development Goals with respect to climate change (SDG 13) and to ensuring access to sustainable energy (SDG 7). Questions of mitigation and adaptation to climate change are furthermore integrated throughout the Agenda. This think piece explores how trade rules, in particular those established at the multilateral level, could support progress towards the 2030 Agenda’s objectives related to climate change and clean energy.  

The authors focus on six key policy challenges at the intersection of trade policy and climate change and clean energy. They recommend prioritising policy actions in three areas: fossil fuel subsidies; clean energy subsidies; and access, dissemination, and transfer of climate-friendly technologies. The authors also suggest policy actions to tackle three other important issues: dealing with the political economy of local content requirements; pricing carbon nationally while tackling international competitiveness and carbon leakage concerns; and designing “carrots” and “sticks” for more ambitious action under climate clubs.