As governments and stakeholders engage in discussions on how trade rules and policies need to be rethought, reformed, updated, or clarified to drive ambitious climate action at speed and scale, key will be doing so in ways that support the inclusive international cooperation vital to climate-resilient development, and fair and just transitions.
Engagement on trade and trade policies can occur at the regional and bilateral levels, but multilateral engagement will also have a central role to play in sustaining trade-related cooperation across the decades of climate action ahead. Here, it is critical for all governments and stakeholders to note that while immediate action is urgent, the process of transformation to net zero economies will take decades, requiring an approach to trade and trade policy that fosters partnerships and cooperation that can endure and evolve over time. Effective, coherent international economic cooperation, underpinned by commitments to fairness and sustainability, will be critical to avoiding a climate disaster, and so sustaining the institutions, rules-based systems, and principles that underpin them is both a short- and long-term priority. Gathering a growing diversity of trade ministers from countries in all regions from all levels of development and climate vulnerabilities, the Coalition of Trade Ministers on Climate should also be seized
as a vehicle for sustaining high-level political dialogue and leadership.
In light of the litany of broken commitments in the face of the bold agenda on climate mitigation, adaptation, and finance that the world so urgently needs, there are good reasons to view the upcoming COP28 with some degree of scepticism. Yet, as the IPCC’s Sixth Assessment Report shows, there remains an opportunity to scale up climate action, enable climate-resilient development, and secure a safe planet through the rapid deployment of existing solutions “enabled by political commitment, well-aligned multilevel governance, institutional frameworks, laws, policies and strategies and enhanced access to finance and technology.”
Trade is relevant across this agenda and it is vital that we move faster to align trade and the trading system with climate goals. To seize the opportunity at hand, the pursuit of inclusive international cooperation on trade, climate, and sustainable development must be our North Star.
Carolyn Deere Birkbeck is Founder and Executive Director, TESS.
Christophe Bellmann is Head of Strategy and Policy Analysis, TESS.
Fabrice Lehmann is Senior Editor and Publications Manager, TESS.
Synergies by TESS is a blog dedicated to promoting inclusive policy dialogue at the intersection of trade, environment, and sustainable development, drawing on perspectives from a range of experts from around the globe. The editor is Fabrice Lehmann.
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