IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

Managing cooperation on climate change: What can we learn from the WTO?


  • Patrick Low
  • Marina Murina


Governments are striving to define the terms of international cooperation to address climate change. This paper considers whether there are lessons to be learned from more than six decades of international cooperation on trade through the GATT/WTO. It argues that in comparison to trade cooperation, the climate change negotiations are taking place against a background of great uncertainty, a long gap in time between actions and results, significant distributional issues, basic differences among parties in terms of the appropriate balance of national responsibilities for action, and sharp differences over policy approaches. All these factors make the negotiations more complex and less likely to result in the kind of detailed policy commitments that characterize the GATT/WTO. Nevertheless, the paper argues that excessive imprecision or reliance or voluntarism at the national level will result in insufficient effort to address the challenges of climate change. A universal agreement with differentiated but clear obligations, a phased approach to the assumption of these obligations, and creative flexibilities offer the best chance of success.

Suggested Citation

  • Patrick Low & Marina Murina, 2010. "Managing cooperation on climate change: What can we learn from the WTO?," The Journal of International Trade & Economic Development, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 19(1), pages 135-161.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:jitecd:v:19:y:2010:i:1:p:135-161
    DOI: 10.1080/09638190903327567

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: Access to full text is restricted to subscribers.

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to search for a different version of it.


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:taf:jitecd:v:19:y:2010:i:1:p:135-161. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Chris Longhurst). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    We have no references for this item. You can help adding them by using this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.