WTO Director-General says International Trade Negotiations Will Benefit from Global Consensus on the Issue of Climate Change

Pascallamy29 May 2008: In an address to the European Parliament's Temporary Committee on Climate Change, World Trade Organization (WTO) Director-General Pascal Lamy highlighted and reviewed different approaches regarding the WTO's role in combating climate change.

On the one hand, he said that some countries would like to “see the trading system curb its own ‘carbon footprint,' through the greenhouse gas emissions it generates in the course of the production, international transportation, and consumption of traded goods and services.” On the other hand, he noted that others prefer that the “trading system offset any competitive disadvantage they suffer in the course of climate change mitigation. More specifically, they would like to see their economic burden shared more globally and proposed border measures proportionate to the costs they incur in curbing their own emissions.” Among the instruments under consideration by WTO members, he highlighted the: imposition of domestic carbon taxes, with border-tax adjustments; emission cap-and-trade systems, with an obligation upon importers to participate in those systems; and opening of markets to environmental goods and services, in particular those that are relevant to climate change, through the ongoing Doha Round of trade negotiations. He also emphasized that the divergent views on what the multilateral trading system can and must do will remain “until a truly global consensus emerges on how best to tackle the issue of climate change.” [WTO News, 29 May 2008]