Australia updated the committee on the work of the Informal Dialogue on Plastics Pollution and Environmentally Sustainable Plastics Trade (IDP). Sixty-eight members currently participate in the IDP and work is ongoing to draft the plan for implementing the ministerial statement launched in December.

New Zealand updated the committee on the joint Ministerial Statement on Fossil Fuel Subsidy Reform, likewise launched in December. New Zealand said 45 WTO members have endorsed the statement and that the signatories intend to meet in the months ahead to advance work. The statement remains open to new sponsors, New Zealand said. Several co-sponsors expressed their support, while some members said this issue should not be addressed in the WTO.

Canada provided an update on the Trade and Environmental Sustainability Structured Discussions (TEESD). The ministerial statement issued by the TESSD proponents in December 2021 sets out a roadmap of meetings for 2022. Canada said participants in the structured discussions intend to finalize a work plan in the near term. Several members who took the floor noted the issues and elements they suggested be included in the workplan. Canada said the TEESD remains open to new co-sponsors.

New Zealand also provided an update on behalf of participants on negotiations towards the Agreement on Climate Change, Trade and Sustainability (ACCTS). A second ministerial meeting was held in November and the seventh round of negotiations concluded in December. The eighth round will be held in March, New Zealand said.

Efforts against deforestation

The European Union provided an update on the European Commission's legislative proposal on deforestation as part of a broader update on the European Green Deal. The EU said the objective of the deforestation proposal is to minimize the risk that products associated with deforestation and forest degradation are placed on the EU market. The regulation will set due diligence rules for operators to ensure that only deforestation-free and legal products are allowed into the EU market. The EU said it selected palm oil, soy, cattle, cocoa, coffee, and manufactured products such as leather, chocolate, and furniture to be covered by the proposal based on a thorough scientific and cost-benefit analysis of their impact on deforestation. The EU also presented a timeline for other measures and proposed packages to achieve its environmental objectives. Several members in response said that sustainability initiatives should take into consideration the needs and capacity of developing countries, particularly those that have suffered massive deforestation in the past. Several members urged the EU to favour multilateral cooperation and dialogue in its environmental efforts.

The United Kingdom presented to members the Forest, Agriculture and Commodity Trade (FACT) Dialogue it launched with Indonesia last year.  The new initiative brings together a number of countries that are key exporters and importers of agricultural products to discuss how to make trade more sustainable and to prevent deforestation resulting from agricultural practices. Twenty-eight countries have agreed on a joint statement on “principles for collaboration,” which sets out a roadmap for action. The FACT co-chairs will be reconvening officials in March to finalize the workplan for 2022, the UK said. FACT co-chairs and facilitators also welcome further exploration of how to align the FACT and WTO processes.

The United Kingdom also updated the CTE on the side event the UK hosted back-to-back with the Committee meeting, titled “Implementing Due Diligence on Forest Risk Commodities — Recent Developments in the United Kingdom.” The webinar explored the UK's proposed implementation of due diligence legislation, which is being introduced through the UK's Environment Act and aims to tackle illegal deforestation in UK supply chains.

Environmental database

The Secretariat presented its Environmental Database (EDB) 2020 report, which was published in January. The EDB portal now covers information on roughly 7,000 environment-related notifications, 14,500 measures notified under the WTO Agreement, and 9,300 environment-related entries in Trade Policy Reviews.

In 2020, 16% of notifications made to the WTO were environment-related as compared to 8% in 1997. There was a 23% increase in the number of environment-related notifications compared with 2019. Around 50% of the environment-related measures were technical regulations and specifications; followed by import and export licenses, bans or prohibitions; and support measures. The EDB can be accessed here.

Other items

The United Kingdom and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change briefed the committee on the outcomes from the COP26 UN Climate Change Conference. Both expressed their commitment to continue efforts to ensure the implementation of outcomes.

Egypt, the host of COP27, said it looked forward to cooperating with all members to build on the success of COP26.

The World Customs Organization, the UN Industrial Development Organization, and the UN Environment Programme provided respective reports on their recent activities.

Members also took note of the information session organized by the Secretariat on 19 November for delegates from the Least-Developed Countries (LDC) Group to take stock of the role of the committee and review members' initiatives on trade and environment in order to strengthen LDCs' knowledge on the intersection between trade and environment and to enhance their participation in various relevant fora.




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