TRADE AND ENVIRONMENT
Malaysia and Indonesia provided information on sustainable management of natural resources with a focus on palm oil. Indonesia sought to address what it said were misconceptions about the production of palm oil and its environmental effects. Given the importance of the sector to Indonesia and Malaysia's economic development, the two stressed the importance of sustainability, taking into account international standards, best practices, forest fire management, employment and productivity.
New Zealand outlined recent developments regarding fossil fuel subsidy reform. It noted the trade-distortive nature of fossil fuel subsidies and the pollution generated from the production and consumption of fossil fuels. New Zealand urged the phasing out of these subsidies, and referenced the Ministerial Statement on Fossil Fuels Subsidies Reform signed by 12 members during the 11th WTO Ministerial Conference in Buenos Aires last year. In this regard, New Zealand stated the belief that the WTO could act as a forum for members to advance this initiative.
The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) also shared its recent study “OECD Companion to the Inventory of Support Measures for Fossil Fuels 2018”. The OECD publication tracks progress on reform of fossil fuel support. The study found that support for fossil fuels overall remained high despite signs of decline among OECD countries.
Norway provided a presentation on "Building a Sustainable Ocean Economy", making the case for the development of the “blue economy.” UN Sustainable Development Goal 14 was highlighted, which speaks to the conservation and sustainable use of oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development. Acknowledging the tremendous economic potential of oceans, Norway shared its policies and practices to encourage the growth of ocean-based industries, incorporate green technology in the blue economy, and address serious environmental challenges such as the rise of plastic and marine waste.
Australia made a presentation to the CTE focused on its climate change actions and challenges. A link was made between rising temperatures associated with climate change and the intensification of natural disasters. As a result, Australia has incorporated climate-resilient development approaches through policies geared towards emissions reduction.
Chinese Taipei presented a non-paper on their perspective regarding climate change and ways to support the implementation of the Paris Agreement.
The WTO secretariat introduced its Environmental Database for 2016. Following the recommendation of the CTE in 1996, the database seeks to enhance transparency of trade-related environmental measures which are notified by members under the WTO agreements, in trade policy reviews, and which are included in preferential or regional trade agreements. The most common types of environment-related objectives included: chemical, toxic and hazardous substances management; general environmental protection; and energy conservation and efficiency. The secretariat also highlighted their latest publication on Mainstreaming Trade to attain Sustainable Development Goals, available here.
Australia also reported on the state of negotiations for the Environmental Goods Agreement (EGA). Finally, presentations were received from observer organizations such as United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the International Maritime Organization (IMO). Ahead of the 24th Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC, good progress had been made; however more movement was needed on issues such as climate finance and transparency. The IMO announced its initial plan to substantially reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from ships. Given the scale of the sector and the expected growth due to increase demand, emissions are projected to rise between 50% and 250% if left unchecked. To combat these projections, the strategy seeks to reduce emissions by at least 50% by 2050 compared to 2008, while at the same time pursuing efforts towards phasing them out entirely before the end of the century.