The Climate Exchange: WTO and UNEP Team Up to Launch Climate Report


June 29, 2009 – For the first time, the World Trade Organization (WTO) teamed up with the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) to release a report outlining the relationship between trade and climate change. The report describes the multitude of ways in which climate change and trade intersect.

Using current scientific knowledge as well as current literature and a survey of national policies, the two organizations worked together to create a report that summarizes concerns regarding existing and projected climate change, impacts of climate change, and on possible responses, through adaptation and mitigation, to the challenges posed by climate change.

The report states that climate change is “unequivocal.” The evidence, gathered through a review of thousands of scientific publications, is compelling, and describes that human activities are “very likely” the cause of such global warming.

The biggest concern that the report denotes is that; barring major changes in policy, law, action, and attitude, global greenhouse gas emissions are expected to increase over the coming decades, with emissions increasing anywhere from 25 to 90 percent by 2030. It is also anticipated that a greater proportion of greenhouse gases will be emitted from developing countries.

Because of the concerns addressed in the report, the WTO and UNEP have partnered in the pursuit of sustainable development. With a freer trade market comes increased global economic activity. The complex challenges of production and transportation versus emission of greenhouse gases will be faced. The two organizations are striving to mitigate the affects of production and transportation by increasing production “green” goods and using the most efficient methods of transporting those goods.

“With a challenge of this magnitude, multilateral cooperation is crucial and a successful conclusion to the ongoing climate change negotiations is the first step to achieving sustainable development for future generations,” said WTO Director General Pascal Lamy and UNEP’s Executive Director Achim Steiner.

Together Steiner and Lamy are urging the international community to seal an equitable and decisive deal at the crucial UN climate convention meeting in Copenhagen, Denmark, in December of this year. They also push for the conclusion of the Doha trade round which includes opening trade in environmental goods and services, which will contribute to reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

The global economy is expected to be affected by climate change, hitting areas such as agriculture, forestry, fisheries, tourism and transport infrastructure, which are critical for developing countries, more specifically. In order to help, negotiators at the WTO DOHA Round are working on “the reduction, or as appropriate, elimination of tariff and non-tariff barriers to environmental goods and services,” improving access to more efficient, diverse and less expensive environmental goods and services on the global market, including goods and services that contribute to climate change mitigation and adaptation.

With the cooperation of these two organizations, it is hoped that steps will be taken to not only reduce the emission of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere by increasing mitigation and adaptation ability but to boost the global economy through creating a freer trade.

To read the entire report, click here.

Photo Credit: Andrew Albertson via flickr under Creative Commons License

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