Implemented jointly by ICTSD and World Economic Forum, the E15Initiative (E15) convenes world-class experts and institutions to generate strategic analysis and recommendations for government, business, and civil society geared towards strengthening the global trade and investment system for sustainable development.
The E15 expert group on Measures to Address Climate Change and the Trade System met for the first time on Monday 30 June and Tuesday 1 July in Geneva to discuss the roles trade and investment can play in achieving climate-friendly development and governance. Climate change poses an urgent threat to the planet. As emphasised by International Monetary Fund’s Managing Director Christine Lagarde, “climate change is the greatest economic challenge of the twenty-first century.” To tackle the problem, it is crucial that policies and measures to mitigate the causes of climate change and to address its impacts are effective. In today’s globalised economy, the roles of trade and investment will enable or frustrate the effectiveness of such measures.
Wide-ranging climate-related policies will inevitably have adverse effects, including the generation of tensions with respect to current trade rules. The lack of an internationally harmonised approach to climate change mitigation has led to a plethora of policies and measures being implemented across the globe, which will likely multiply these possible points of tension.
What was for some time a purely academic debate, the link between trade and climate change has now become a political reality, increasingly relevant to the international trading system. Recent regional trade agreements explicitly refer to climate change and, in some cases, include specific provisions on the topic, indicating that there is a positive role for trade to play in the area of climate action. Climate-related disputes are also becoming increasingly frequent at the WTO; but with current trade rules having been established long before climate change was an issue on the global agenda, the WTO’s dispute settlement body has a somewhat outdated toolbox with which to work.
Against this background, the task of the expert group is to explore options to enhance the contribution of the global trade system in support of climate action and broader sustainable development objectives.
Attendance at this event was by invitation only.