Trade and climate change

Climate change is a global environmental challenge that calls for collective solutions, multilateral cooperation and coherent action in line with the international community's wider ambitions for economic growth and sustainable development. Trade and trade policy can and must be a part of the policy "toolbox" to achieve shared climate goals at the depth and speed required by the climate emergency. Trade plays a crucial role in the transition to a global low-carbon economy and a greener, more sustainable society.

News 

WTO meetings at which climate change has been raised:

Role of the WTO

Climate change can negatively impact trade by disrupting distribution and supply chains and raising trade costs. The WTO, as the cornerstone of the multilateral rules-based global trading system, plays a key part in supporting climate action. It provides a framework of disciplines to facilitate global trade and serves as a forum to negotiate further trade openness and to discuss trade concerns. The WTO rules require members to be transparent when adopting new measures impacting trade with legitimate policy objectives, such as combatting climate change. The WTO seeks to ensure that such measures are coherent and fit-for-purpose and do not create unjustifiable discrimination.

The issue of climate change, per se, is not found expressly in the WTO agreements. However, the goals of sustainable development and environmental protection are central to the WTO, as captured in the preamble to its founding charter, the Marrakesh Agreement. The WTO gives members the opportunity to hold open and informed dialogue on trade and climate change, to discuss related measures and to share knowledge and experiences. Trade and climate change policies can contribute towards climate action while at the same time ensuring opportunities for economic growth and diversification.

Staff information notes

Information briefs

Policy briefs

Working papers

Full list 

WTO members' notified measures on climate action

Source: WTO's Environmental Database. To access it, please click here.

WTO members' submissions on climate change

Submitted by

Document number

Committee or group

Japan

INF/TE/SSD/W/10

TESSD — Proposal on Contributions to Achieving Global Carbon Neutrality at the WTO

European Union

INF/TE/SSD/W/7

TESSD — Communication on topics of interest

Iceland

INF/TE/SSD/W/5

TESSD — Communication on priorities for discussion

Switzerland

INF/TE/SSD/W/4

TESSD — Communication on possible issues/priorities

New Zealand

INF/TE/SSD/W/1

TESSD — Proposal for a fossil fuel subsidies reform discussion

WTO at Climate Change COP27

WTO at Climate Change COP27

The well-being of people is dependent upon the well-being of our planet, and trade can play an important role here (ů) By connecting people and markets, trade helps lower costs and disseminate new environmental technologies. Trade can make resource use more efficient, reducing the strain on our ecosystems. New trade rules can help our economies become greener, cleaner, more prosperous, and more inclusive.

Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, WTO Director-General
5 June 2021