The set of principles that we address in the report is in no way intended to be exhaustive. We selected the principles following careful review of a broad range of possible principles, selecting those that we considered to be particularly relevant to, and deserving of consideration in, the design and implementation of trade-related climate measures and policies. In discussing them, we caution that we do not intend to make any definitive statement as to their legal status, including in the context of any particular international law regime. The group recognizes that the principles set out in the report may not have equal standing in international law. Nor does the order in which the principles are presented in the report suggest any particular hierarchy among them. The report also does not address the application of the principles to any particular measures, whether to determine their legality or otherwise.
We present the principles in a general manner, recognizing that they potentially apply to a wide range of trade-related climate measures and policies, while acknowledging that each principle may apply differently depending on the specific measure at issue, the particular context, and other relevant factors.
With this in mind, we analyse the principles in a way that presents them as cumulative (governments should consider all of these principles when they design and implement trade-related climate measures and policies) and simultaneously applicable, in a mutually supportive and coherent manner, giving full effect to all relevant parts of international law, insofar as possible. Our commentary recognizes the difficulties involved in achieving such coherence and adopts a modest reflective posture, rather than a prescriptive approach, to the implications of the principles we identify.
During our work, experts within our group highlighted the need to discuss reforms, updates, or clarifications on a range of different aspects of international law in order to support the global response at the speed and scale called for by the climate crisis. While recognizing the scope for climate action within existing trade and climate rules, the expert group agreed on the need to encourage critical reflection and dialogue on potential developments of international law to support climate action, both to promote trade that can further collective climate goals and to discourage trade that undermines them, all while fostering sustainable development.
We hope that our reflections on the principles may play a useful role in further discussion around the design and implementation of trade-related climate measures and policies, providing a common reference point to inform and foster mutual understanding, dialogue, and international cooperation on trade-related climate measures and policies in the context of sustainable development priorities.
The International Legal Expert Group on Trade-Related Climate Measures and Policies drew together leading international legal experts from the climate, environment, trade, and general international law communities in both developed and developing countries, participating in their personal capacities. The full list of experts is available here.
This article is drawn from the expert group report on Principles of international law relevant for consideration in the design and implementation of trade-related climate measures and policies.
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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