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Trade and Climate Change: The Challenges Ahead

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  • de Melo, Jaime
  • Mathys, Nicole Andréa

Abstract

The outcome of the 15th conference of the Parties to the UNFCC showed a shift from a top-down approach with a collective target favoring environmental objectives to a bottom-up accord favoring political feasibility with no meaningful binding agreement in sight as the global climate regime and the global trade policy regime represented by the WTO appear to be on a collision course. Following a review of the alternative architectures for the next Climate Change Agreement, the paper outlines four areas in which trade will play a role: as a purveyor of technological transfer; as a mechanism to separate where abatement takes place from who bears the cots of abatement; as a participation mechanism; and as a way to address the pressures for border adjustments. Political-economy considerations are invoked to predict that a target system with a carbon credit system will be preferable to a carbon tax or to a portfolio system of treaties. A review of evidence on the extent of pollution haven effects suggests that these should be small under climate mitigation policies, especially if efforts are undertaken to raise the price of energy. A discussion of border measures to complement mitigation policies suggests that they are unlikely to be found compatible with the environmental exceptions allowed under article XX of the GATT. The review concludes that an umbrella agreement with leeway where much initial mitigation would first take place unilaterally as under the early days of the GATT might be the most promising way ahead while preserving an open World Trading System and environmental integrity.

Suggested Citation

  • de Melo, Jaime & Mathys, Nicole Andréa, 2010. "Trade and Climate Change: The Challenges Ahead," CEPR Discussion Papers 8032, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:8032
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    Cited by:

    1. Nicole A. MATHYS & Jaime DE MELO, 2012. "Reconciling Trade and Climate Policies," Working Papers P37, FERDI.
    2. Jaime de Melo & Nicole A. Mathys, 2012. "Concilier les politiques commerciales et les politiques climatiques," Revue d’économie du développement, De Boeck Université, vol. 20(2), pages 57-81.
    3. Henrik Horn & Petros C. Mavroidis, 2011. "To B(TA) or Not to B(TA)? On the Legality and Desirability of Border Tax Adjustments from a Trade Perspective," The World Economy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 34(11), pages 1911-1937, November.
    4. Onder, Harun, 2012. "Trade and Climate Change: An Analytical Review of Key Issues," World Bank - Economic Premise, The World Bank, issue 86, pages 1-8, August.
    5. Jaime de Melo, 2014. "Trade in a “Green Growth” Development Strategy. Issues and Challenges," Revue d’économie du développement, De Boeck Université, vol. 22(HS01), pages 157-184.
    6. Jaime de Melo, 2012. "Trade in a 'Green Growth' Development Strategy Global Scale Issues and Challenges," Working Papers 2012.47, Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei.
    7. Nicole A. MATHYS & Jaime DE MELO, 2011. "The Political Economy of Climate Change Policies: Political Economy Aspects of Climate Change Mitigation Efforts," Working Papers P24, FERDI.
    8. Aichele, Rahel & Felbermayr, Gabriel, 2012. "Kyoto and the carbon footprint of nations," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 63(3), pages 336-354.
    9. Rahel Aichele, 2013. "Trade, Climate Policy and Carbon Leakage - Theory and Empirical Evidence," ifo Beiträge zur Wirtschaftsforschung, ifo Institute - Leibniz Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich, number 49, April.
    10. Patrick MESSERLIN, 2011. "Climate, trade and water: A “grand coalition”?," Working Papers P23, FERDI.
    11. Patrick MESSERLIN, 2011. "Climate, trade and water: A “grand coalition”?," Working Papers P23, FERDI.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Climate Change; WTO;

    JEL classification:

    • F18 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Trade and Environment
    • Q56 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Environment and Development; Environment and Trade; Sustainability; Environmental Accounts and Accounting; Environmental Equity; Population Growth

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