Free trade can help combat global warming, finds UN report

Green Economy

26 June 2009 – Contrary to conventional wisdom, further liberalization of international trade can help combat climate change and support a low carbon economy, said a joint United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and World Trade Organization (WTO) report launched today in Geneva.

The “Trade and Climate Change” report stressed that an increase and opening of trade could have a positive impact on greenhouse gases emissions by accelerating the spread of clean technology and providing opportunities for developing economies to adapt those technologies.

“With a challenge of this magnitude, multilateral cooperation is crucial and a successful conclusion to the ongoing climate change negotiations is the first step to achieving sustainable development for future generations,” said UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner and WTO Director General Pascal Lamy.

According to a joint news release, Mr. Steiner and Mr. Lamy together urged the international community to “seal an equitable and decisive deal at the crucial UN climate convention meeting in Copenhagen, Denmark, in December,” when States aim to negotiate an ambitious new greenhouse gas reduction agreement to succeed the 1997 Kyoto Protocol.

The two men also pressed nations to conclude the stalled Doha trade round, a series of international talks under the WTO that began in 2001 in a bid to reduce trade barriers which includes opening trade in environmental goods and services.

The report noted that rising incomes, resulting from freer trade can also change social patterns and aspirations with wealthier societies having the opportunity to demand higher environmental standards including those relating to greenhouse gas emissions.

In addition, the reports pointed to evidence suggesting that more open trade together with measures to combat climate change can accelerate innovation, including new products and processes that create new clean technology businesses.

In a related development, Mr. Steiner also welcomed today the ‘Green Growth’ Declaration by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), saying it underscored the environment’s central role in economic discourse and policy-making.

In the wide-ranging declaration, OECD ministers called for greater cooperation over low carbon, clean technology, including renewable energies and green information and communications technologies to assist in realizing a sustainable 21st century.


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