TRADE AND ENVIRONMENT
The chair of the committee, Ambassador Manuel A.J. Teehankee (Philippines), reported on his consultations with members last month on the messages on trade and environment to include in an outcome document, such as a Ministerial Declaration, at MC12. Twelve delegations that met with the chair emphasized the importance of reaffirming the Committee's role, particularly in enhancing transparency on trade and environment issues, and contributing to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, he said. Other suggestions included highlighting new ideas for WTO work, and sharing members' experiences and programmes in trade-related climate action.
At the Committee meeting, several delegations conveyed their strong support for the work of the Committee and for including references to the CTE, climate change and environmental sustainability in an outcome document. A delegation also suggested that trade and environment be placed on the agenda of MC12 for ministers to consider and provide guidance. The chair noted that the Committee will prepare its annual report to the General Council and for MC12, and that he remains available for further consultations.
Members also heard updates on outcome documents being prepared by WTO members participating in the Informal Dialogue on Plastics Pollution and Environmentally Sustainable Plastics Trade, the Trade and Environmental Sustainability Structured Discussions, and the group drafting a proposed fossil fuel subsidies ministerial statement. The respective representatives called on more WTO members to join as signatories to the forthcoming declarations and statements.
The Committee furthermore took note of information on preparations for the 26th session of the Conference of Parties (COP 26) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), which will be held from 31 October to 12 November in Glasgow, Scotland, to accelerate action towards the goals of the Paris Agreement. The United Kingdom, host of the summit, said that ahead of MC12, it is vital that members harness the momentum from COP 26 to ensure that the multilateral trading system plays its part in addressing climate change.
The Committee also heard presentations on members' environmental policies and programmes, including the European Union's carbon border adjustment mechanism. The EU reiterated that the mechanism was being designed to ensure consistency with WTO rules and would be implemented gradually to give all stakeholders time to implement necessary adjustments. Some members sought further clarification on the mechanism, with the Russian Federation in particular noting that it had circulated a list of questions for the EU.
The Central African Republic briefed members on its legislation and related measures for managing plastic waste and its partnership with the private sector to recycle plastic into construction materials. Morocco shared information on its national strategy on marine pollution from plastics titled “Littoral sans plastique,” which includes efforts to curb the use of plastic bags, introduce extended producer responsibility for packaging waste, and enhance funding for recycling infrastructure. The United Kingdom presented its activities related to making supply chains more sustainable, including its work as co-convener of the COP26 Forest, Agriculture and Commodity Trade (FACT) Dialogue to enhance consumer-producer collaboration in preventing deforestation. The WTO Secretariat updated members on improved features and data availability in the WTO's Environmental Database.
The next Committee meeting is tentatively scheduled for the first trimester of 2022.