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WTO Director General at Carleton University: “Climate First, and Trade Second”

Wto2 November 2009: In a speech delivered on 2 November 2009, at Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada, the Director General of the World Trade Organization (WTO), Pascal Lamy, stated that the climate crisis is “urgent, and is a top priority on the international agenda.”

He noted that the multilateral trading system “has a key role to play on the international economic and political landscape,” and that it is designed “to enhance, and not reduce, human welfare.”

Lamy said that if the trading system ignores the emerging carbon price, welfare would be reduced. Noting concerns over unilateral legislation to fight climate change, which may include trade measures, he explained that the free allocation of pollution permits is one such example, and could be WTO-related. Lamy also stated that “border adjustments” or carbon taxes could reflect the fact that some countries foresee the failure of a Copenhagen accord, and he underlined that the best way to offset a competitive disadvantage, or to fight carbon leakage, is an international accord that includes as many players as possible. [WTO Press Release]