Climate Change and Global Trade

Stop Climate ChaosClimate change is the issue of our generation. As governments develop their responses to the climate crisis what role will international trade play in what is decided. What role will government subsidies play? Can we encourage people to buy less carbon intensive products by applying tariffs? Will we see intellectual property rules restrict the production of desperately needed environmentally friendly technologies?

Report says EU must change trade agreements to ensure climate action

April 5, 2018: A report by the French Veblen Institute and environmental groups urges the European Union to make specific amendments to the EU-Canada and other agreements to ensure that trade agreements do not undermine the 2016 Paris climate agreement and that governments make enforceable commitments to implement the Paris agreement. It builds on previous research in both Europe and the US.

The report notes that environmental chapters in the EU-Canada deal and others like the CPTPP are not enforceable.

European Civil Society condemns EU backflip on Climate Accord and trade

Thursday February 21, 2019: Both a European parliamentary trade committee and French President Macron are doing a backflip on earlier decisions that support for the Paris Climate Accord of 2015 is a pre-condition for any new trade agreement. This policy was applied in the recently finalised EU- Japan Free Trade Agreement. But it will not apply in the new trade talks with President Trump which will focus on steel and automobiles.

Support for the Paris Climate Accord is a pre-condition for the current EU-Australia Free Trade Agreement negotiations, but the danger is the Morrison government might seize this opening.

NZ Trade Unions criticise greenwash trade proposal

June 22, 2020: New Zealand with Costa Rica, Fiji, Iceland and Norway launched a new initiative - the Agreement on Climate Change, Trade and Sustainability (ACCTS) – on September 25, 2019, on the fringe of the United Nations General Assembly Leaders Meeting in New York. The New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated that their objective was to use trade policy to reduce subsidies for fossil fuels, in order to help achieve the goal of limiting global warming to 1.5oC.

They calculate that global subsidies for fossil fuel use are over US$500 billion per year.

However, fossil fuel subsidies are only one of three key targets in the proposed negotiations, which are:

AFTINET webinar video: the pandemic and changes needed to trade policy

You can view here the video of the AFTINET webinar: The pandemic is exposing flaws in global trade policy: what should post-pandemic trade policy look like?

It was held on Tuesday June 23, 2020, and the resource speakers were: Dr Deborah Gleeson, La Trobe University, Andrew Dettmer, National President, Australian Manufacturing Workers Union, Sam Cossar-Gilbert, Friends of the Earth, Dr Patricia Ranald, AFTINET Convener and Associate, University of Sydney.

UK pressures Australia for carbon reductions in FTA talks as EU and US ponder carbon levies

February 12, 2021: Both new US President Joe Biden and UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson are headlining their determination to reduce net carbon emissions to zero by 2050. But Australia’s Morrison government is declaring that it will fight any proposal to impose border carbon levies, including in the current UK-Australia and EU-Australia Free Trade Agreement negotiations.

Environmental law expert urges EU to terminate the Energy Charter Treaty

February 15, 2021: After three rounds of re-negotiation of the 1994 Energy Charter Treaty in 2020, a leading policy writer at Colombia University, Martin Dietrich Brauch, argues that the European Union member states should withdraw collectively from the Treaty.

He argues that they should agree not to use its Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) provisions among themselves, and if possible, to terminate the Treaty entirely, because of changes to EU law and they treaty's  massive blockage to rapid reduction of carbon emissions.

Netherlands faces A$2.2 billion claim against its law to phase out coal powered energy

March 1, 2021: The German electricity generation company RWE filed a request for arbitration against the Netherlands on January 20, 2021, at the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes, based on the Dutch government's decision to phase out coal for electricity generation by 2030.

This use of the Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) clause in the 1994 Energy Charter Treaty marks the first investment arbitration against the Netherlands. In 2019, another German power company, Uniper, threatened an ISDS case over the same law.

“Super-protections” for global corporations – New Dutch study of ISDS

March 17, 2021: The February 2021 action by the German energy company RWE to sue the Netherlands government using the Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) provisions of the Energy Charter Treaty has provoked a Dutch institute to compare investor rights under Dutch and EU law with investor rights under the 1994 ECT and the recent Canada – Europe Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA).

RWE wants €1.4 billion (A$2.2 billion) to compensate for expected losses from the December 2019 Dutch law to phase out coal-fired power stations by 2030. Huge claims for dubious calculations of future lost profits are allowed under ISDS, which are not generally allowed in national systems.

ISDS cases lined up against Mexico’s energy reform laws

April 6, 2021: US-based global law firm Morgan Lewis & Bockius LLP is advising US investors to prepare Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) claims against Mexico over its Power Industry Law and its proposed Hydrocarbons Reform Bill which enable Mexico to take action against climate change.

The Power Industry Law deals with renewable energy and was adopted on March 10, 2021, while the Hydrocarbons Reform Bill is expected to pass through the Congress without resistance in the coming weeks.

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