Institute for Environmental Security
Advancing Global Environmental Security through
Science · Diplomacy · Law · Finance · Education
18 July 2009
An opinion published in the New York Times on 18 July 2009 highlights the interwovenness of climate and trade policies and insists on the necessity to consider both issues if we are to be successful in either one of them.
The House of Representatives proved the point last month when it passed a climate bill that would impose trade penalties on countries that do not accept limits on carbon emissions. Last year, the European Commission approved the idea of an ?equalisation? levy on imports from countries that have not agreed to cut emissions.
President Obama rightly opposed the penalties in the House bill. Unilateral sanctions are unlikely to work and more than likely to provoke a dangerous protectionist tit-for-tat trade war. Yet if the world?s biggest emitters of CO2 ? including the United States, China and India ? fail to reach an agreement at a meeting in Copenhagen in December, the temptation for countries that accept limits on emissions to impose unilateral sanctions on countries that do not could well become irresistible.
But such tariffs must be part of an international agreement on climate change. Unilateral penalties against fast-growing polluters like China and India would be seen as illegitimate and could easily backfire, scuttling chances of an agreement on climate issues. Congress must refrain from putting sanctions in its climate bill.
Further, any deal must set clear guidelines on how to identify and quantify transgressions and establish appropriate countermeasures. It also must not open a backdoor for protectionism. Without such a deal, trade is going to have problems. Failing to conclude the current negotiations will be the least of them.
Speech by Pascal Lamy at University of Warwick, UK
15 July 2009
WARWICK - WTO Director-General Pascal Lamy, in a speech after receiving an honorary degree from the University of Warwick in the United Kingdom on 15 July 2009, declared seing the emergence of a new triangle of global governance.
After analysing the potential negative effects of the financial crisis on globalisation, Lamy insisted on the fact that the multilateral trading system was needed more than ever. "Even if we believed that all crisis phenomena were cyclical and that we would soon be able to resume ?business as usual?, we would still need a strong regime of international cooperation to exit the crisis. But when we add the strong likelihood of secular change ? that policies and behaviour in the financial sector will be modified to avoid a replay of the forces that generated the crisis, that ways of doing business may change, that new economic structures and patterns of exchange are evolving, and that public attitudes are likely to exert new influences on governments, this gives us a second reason for reinforced and more effective international cooperation. There is also a third reason. The imperatives of changing economic, social and environmental circumstances, along with the shared global challenges of addressing development and poverty, mean that the nature and substance of cooperation is always changing too", Lamy said.
On the role of the WTO and the system of international governance, Lamy declared "I see a new triangle of global governance emerging that we need to strenghten. A 'triangle of coherence'. On one side of the triangle lies the G20, providing political leadership and policy direction. On another side lie member-driven international organisations providing expertise and specialised inputs whether rules, policies or programmes. The third side of the triangle is the G-192, the United Nations, providing a forum for accountability".
26 May 2009
GENEVA - The WTO General Council, on 26 May 2009, agreed to hold the Seventh Session of the WTO Ministerial Conference in Geneva, Switzerland, from 30 November to 2 December 2009. The general theme for discussion shall be "The WTO, the Multilateral Trading System and the Current Global Economic Environment".
20 May 2009
NEW YORK - Progress towards achieving an ambitious new treaty on the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions is gathering pace, the top United Nations climate change official said today, announcing the online publication of the text to be negotiated by nations this December in Copenhagen.
"This document marks an important point on our road," said Yvo de Boer, Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). "It's the first time [a] real negotiating text will be on the table which can serve as a basis for governments to start drafting a Copenhagen agreed outcome."
The 53-page negotiating text covers a shared vision for long-term cooperative action, along with an action plan for strengthening adaptation and mitigation measures, as well as finance, technology and capacity-building.
7 May 2009
A letter headed up by GLOBE EU member and Irish EPP-ED MEP Avril Doyle on behalf of a cross-party group of MEPs and addressed to Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, has criticised the European Commission over proposals to set up a new directorate general (DG) for energy and climate.
The group which also includes GLOBE EU members Chris Davies, Satu Hassi and GLOBE EU President Anders Wijkman amongst others, is concerned that given how far-reaching and complex the climate change issue is, it should be dealt with in solidarity rather than alongside energy policy.
The letter explains that 'Climate policies require... looking at industrial emissions, transport, energy, buildings, agriculture, development, and foreign policy. A DG responsible for energy and climate would not be best placed to deliver such a horizontal approach'. In fact MEPs go on to warn that such a move may indeed have the opposite of the desired effect, with short term economic interests potentially interfering with effective and sustainable climate policies.
Ms Doyle and her colleagues instead recommend that the Commission would be better off either dealing with climate change in isolation, or making it part of the environment department with equal access to all other relevant DGs.
A further reason given by the MEPs for abandoning the Commission's proposed structural changes, is the proximity of the Copenhagen COP-15 negotiations, where the EU hopes to play a pivotal and leading role in reaching a new global climate deal. They fear that having 'internal speculation over administrative structures could be highly damaging to the EU preparedness and performance in the negotiation process'.
The MEPs, many of whom had leading roles as rapporteurs or shadows, during the process of getting the energy and climate change package passed through Parliament and ultimately adopted, have therefore spoken with one voice against the proposed new DG.