DEPUTY DIRECTOR-GENERAL JEAN-MARIE PAUGAM
Good afternoon dear coordinators, Excellencies, everyone.
It is impressive, I'm impressed like you to see how the world and the WTO have changed in less than one year when it comes to discussing sustainability and climate change and the conversation this morning on sustainability shows that these issues are universally recognised as central in the international economy and increasingly in the realm of trade policy.
The question is: are we moving fast enough? If we do not, the risk will be the one mentioned by the DG in her opening remarks: uncoordinated unilateral actions may lead to harmful economic fragmentation, which would neither help climate mitigation nor adaptation. Turning open trade polices into a driving force to fight climate change has become a central challenge for international cooperation.
TESSD has been the first initiative to comprehensively start tackling this problem within the WTO. Today's stocktaking event proves that TESSD has been moving in the right direction and provides ideas that will be useful for the wider WTO membership. TESSD has all the potential to help advance WTO's broader agenda by MC13 and WTO's position in supporting actions on environmental sustainability in the coming years.
It clearly belongs to you Members to set the pace and outcomes of these discussions.
Hearing what has been said this morning about the next stage of your work, I have the feeling there are three dimensions which may be worth reflecting on:
- trying to move toward concrete actions for MC13;
- facilitating public-private dialogue on standards in the future;
- looking for ways to increase diversity in the participation in the discussions.
Moving from concept to actions at the next Ministerial Conference (MC13).
Over the past year, TESSD has been advancing discussions and critical knowledge on systemic environmental and climate issues. As you move forward, greater focus in terms of sectors and approaches is helping us to identify solutions and concrete actions
For instance, in the environmental goods and services working group, you are deep diving into trade policy issues around renewable energy. Ambassador Olberg from Norway mentioned the wind turbines for instance this morning. Your discussions on regulatory measures, supply chain bottlenecks and technology can add value to work in other bodies across the WTO.
Another example, in the subsidies working group, discussing the environmental effects of subsidies is offering insights that can complement work in other bodies.
We think it's very valuable conceptual work that will bring critical trade policy knowledge informing WTO negotiations and other global efforts in support of the climate transition. Clean energy will for instance be a priority for the next Climate Change Conference, COP28, in the United Arab Emirates.
And as you take stock of the good work towards MC13, some speakers have encouraged us to think of moving toward with some form of immediate action. Conceptual work is not the enemy of immediate action if concrete measures are already possible to identify.
Many WTO Members have already taken individual climate actions: our trade and environmental database counts more than 4,600 climate related measures notified to the WTO since 2009. These are concrete trade measures, already implemented. These individual measures could be considered within a WTO context as a sort of equivalent to what is being called “Nationally Determined Contribution” in the context of the Paris Agreement.
On our road to MC13, could we think of drawing more inspiration from this pool of measures?
Reflecting on the point on transparency of national policies, which was made by Ambassador Boza from Chile, or the idea that I heard from Ambassador Kah of Gambia of an “auditing mechanism”, we could think of producing a sort of “catalogue”, that would be an inventory of the most frequent type of measure that we find in the database, so that trade ministries can inspire each other. You have already been gathering examples from the Environmental Database and discussing them in your Working Groups. Some might even want to emulate others by taking similar pro-climate trade actions.
Of course, there is one big difference between WTO and the Paris Agreement, is that we do not have here a global framework allowing us to collect, compare and add all these concrete contributions to the cause of trade and climate. On our road to MC13, could we find a way of compiling key commitments or pledges made by our members for climate, undertaken individually or within coalitions?
These are ideas that could be discussed on our road toward MC13.
My second point is about facilitating dialogue with the private sector on standards.
The private sector is of course leading the transition to net-zero or low-carbon development, and if the WTO wants to help, we must hear their voices and consider their needs.
TESSD stakeholders who just spoke have helped to bring private sector perspectives into the discussions. For example, in the Working Group on Circular Economy, we have heard experiences on circular business models and related trade challenges. A lot has been said also this morning about the role of MSMEs in this dialogue.
I think that more can be done.
For example, take TESSD's working group on trade-related climate measures. The issue of carbon standards have become a priority for the working group, which is also increasingly a priority for the private sector.
The iron and steel industry, for instance, which accounts for approximately 7-8% of the annual global CO2 emissions, has at least 20 different decarbonization standards, many of which have other boundaries and methodologies.
Steel is a widely traded product, with 30% of steel and 40% of products using steel traded across countries. The decarbonization of this sector will be critical world wide and it's critical for the WTO to work with stakeholders, including the private sector and standard body organizations, to bring transparency, coherence, and convergence on this point.
Finding new avenues to engage and collaborate with the private sector will make the TESSD's work more relevant and effective.
The last point that I would like to mention has been abundantly covered by several speakers: Diversity. Developing and least-developed members not only face the highest impacts from climate change but also need to be fully participating to building a more sustainable trade agenda.
More can be done to continue reaching out to these Members in order to bring them on board. One way of being creative in that regard may be to build synergies with other critical agendas at the WTO, such as the Aid for Trade initiative to establish concrete pathways toward more sustainable trade for development.
Excellencies, dear delegates these are a few leads that I wanted to share about possible steps for the TESSD. I hope you may find them of interest and useful for your reflections on our way to MC13
Thank you very much for your attention.