Olivier De Schutter
Climate change, trade, World Trade Organization, conditionalities, linkage, fragmentation
This article takes as its departure point the problem of ‘carbon leakage’. While industrialized countries outsource their most polluting industries, they can pretend to comply with their commitments to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions simply by increasing volumes of imports. Instead of the current fragmentation of the trade and climate change agendas, a more coherent system is needed, in which access to markets is made conditional on the adoption of more robust mitigation efforts, and in which developing countries are supported in such efforts. This article reviews a range of tools that could ensure such coherence, including higher import tariffs for goods produced through methods that do not use the cleanest technologies available, border tax adjustments and ecolabelling schemes. The article concludes that while defining a range of conditions that should be complied with in order to avoid the risk of GHG-reduction related conditionalities being misused for protectionist purposes, WTO law generally allows for meaningful linkages to be established between trade and climate change. It is possible, therefore, to move from the current state of fragmentation of global governance towards greater coherence. Doing so, it is argued here, would serve the cause of climate justice.
(2014) 0 Journal of Human Rights and the Environment 65-102
Trade in the service of climate change mitigation: the question of linkage
Abidjan, Basel, Ban, capacity, compliance, hazardous, prior informed consent, sovereignty, trade, waste.
The Basel Convention was intended to prevent developing countries from being used as a dumping ground for the world’s toxic waste, a phenomenon often described as ‘toxic colonialism’. However, as the Abidjan disaster in 2006 demonstrated, the Convention is failing to prevent industrialised countries from exporting their hazardous waste to developing countries which lack the capacity to safely dispose of it.
Whilst environmental NGOs, the European Union and many developing nations continue to advocate a blanket ban on trade in hazardous waste, this is a misguided response which has proved difficult to enforce.
The Basel Convention contains the basic procedural mechanisms and institutional structures within which international trade of hazardous waste can be based. However, some key institutional reforms and far greater financial resources are urgently required if it is to adequately safeguard the world’s poor in the international trade of hazardous waste. These reforms need to be based on a recognition that the Prior Informed Consent procedure is inadequate in the context of north-south hazardous waste trade, where competition for crucial foreign revenue puts pressure on the governments of developing countries to consent to imports of waste that they do not have the capacity to manage without incurring potentially disastrous harm to human health and the environment.
(2009) 5(2) Law, Environment and Development Journal 167
Beyond the Ban – can the Basel Convention adequately Safeguard the Interests of the World’s Poor in the International Trade of Hazardous Waste?
Melissa Gabler ( University of Guelph , Canada )
UNCED, sustainable development, environmental norms, policy, governance, WTO, trade, environment
The United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) recognized that sustainable development can only be actualized if environmental norms are integrated into other areas of policy across levels of governance. This article examines the Committee on Trade and Environment of the World Trade Organization (WTO) to answer the question of why actors’ efforts to enhance the mutual supportiveness of trade and environmental norms have resulted in minimalist policy outcomes. I first introduce a framework for analyzing norms and their levels of compatibility and a social learning explanation for policy integration emphasizing the importance of normative and institutional conditions. Second, I show that low levels of both norm compatibility between UNCED and WTO and institutional capacity in the WTO for learning have contributed to weak integration. The approach contributes to constructivist theory development and the findings provide insights to policy-makers grappling with how to support the integration of norms and institutions in global governance.
(2010) 10 Global Environmental Politics 80-117
Norms, Institutions and Social Learning: An Explanation for Weak Policy Integration in the WTO’s Committee on Trade and Environment