“Global carbon standards are essential for credible and comparable emissions reductions,” Deputy Director-General Jean-Marie Paugam said to mark the launch of the sixth information note in the trade and climate change series, titled “What Yardstick for net-zero? How WTO TBT (Technical Barriers to Trade) disciplines can contribute to effective policies on carbon emission standards and climate change mitigation.

“The WTO and its TBT Agreement play a crucial role in facilitating the transition towards a low-carbon world by enabling WTO members to cooperate and converge on common standards to measure and verify the carbon content of products,” he said. “Trade is about people and there are few 21st century challenges that threaten the livelihoods of those most in need more than climate change. Trade can and must be part of the solution.”

The information brief analyses the challenges posed by different accounting methodologies for measuring the carbon content of products and recalls WTO principles agreed by the TBT Committee for the development of international standards, guides and recommendations.

It also emphasizes how vital a system of verification of carbon content measurements and communication of information is in providing confidence to the market. WTO committee work, it states, can serve as a forum for early dialogue on emerging regulations to address climate change. This cooperation helps to facilitate the transition towards a low-carbon economy and to avoid unproductive trade frictions.

The information brief also calls attention to the complexity of carbon emission quantification, which thus entails the provision of support to developing countries so that they can participate and reap the opportunities presented by a low-carbon economy.

In addition to its online launch, the publication was also presented in the inaugural WTO-World Bank trade and climate change webinar series on 25 March, which focused on how least-developed countries (LDCs) must be supported in their low-carbon transition.

WTO Trade and Environment Division (TED) Director Aik Hoe Lim noted LDCs' increasing participation in relevant WTO discussions and pointed to the need to make use of Aid for Trade to support these members.  WTO TED Counsellor Erik Wijkstrom said that WTO TBT principles for developing international standards, moreover, refer to the need to include developing countries in the shaping of these standards.

Mona Haddad, World Bank Group's global director for trade, investment and competitiveness,   highlighted the proliferation of carbon content regulations from both the public and private sectors and how this can hamper the ability of firms in low and middle-income countries to trade. Vicky Chemutai from the World Bank furthermore pointed to carbon measurement challenges posed by longer value chains composed of multiple suppliers. Sidley Austin's Dominic Coppens and the International Trade Centre's Rajesh Aggarwal elaborated further on the perspective of the private sector and small and medium-sized enterprises.

The full series of Secretariat information briefs on trade, climate change and related issues is available here.




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