News - News

29 November 2023


As governments and stakeholders gather in Dubai from 30 November to 12 December for the 2023 UN Climate Change Conference (COP28), TESS will be participating in a number of sessions as speaker and host.

With extreme weather events sweeping across the planet to devastating effect, a series of climate records shattered, and “no end in sight” to the rising trend
of emissions of climate-heating gases, stakes at COP28 could not be higher.

Among other critical items on the agenda—including operationalizing funding arrangements for a loss and damage fund and new quantified collective goals on climate finance—COP28 will see the completion of the first global stocktake under the Paris Agreement, intended to inform the next round of climate commitments. The IPCC’s Sixth Assessment Report, which feeds into the stocktake, underlines that emissions of greenhouse gases have continued to increase, and the latest UNEP Emissions Gap Report confirms that the world is heading for a temperature rise of 2.5–2.9oC, far above the Paris Agreement goals.

For the first time, trade will have a higher profile at a UN Climate Change Conference. On 4 December, the host state and UNFCCC will hold the first-ever Trade Day, and a Trade House Pavilion hosted by ICC, ITC, UNCTAD, and WTO will provide a dedicated space for discussions on the role of trade in driving climate action throughout COP28.

At TESS, through our various activities and thought leadership on the nexus between climate, trade, and sustainable development, we are committed to supporting analysis, reflection, and action on where and how trade and trade policies can help avoid a climate catastrophe and foster climate-resilient development and just transitions. Our view is that inclusive international cooperation on trade, climate, and sustainable development can help achieve these goals.

Join us at COP28!

TESS Engagement at COP28

A Positive Agenda for Trade, Climate and Development Goals

2 December 2023 – 12:00-13:00 – Trade House Pavilion

TESS Executive Director Carolyn Deere Birkbeck will be a speaker at this leaders conversation hosted by UNCTAD. The event will explore the foundations of a pro-development agenda for trade and climate, looking at the development considerations of nascent efforts on trade and climate, the risks of ignoring development priorities in building cooperation around trade and climate, and key principles for climate-resilient development.

The Climate Impact of Plastic Production – The Road to a Global Plastics Treaty

3 December 2023 – 10:00-11:00 – Rwanda Pavilion

This high-level session, co-sponsored by the Government of Rwanda, through the Rwanda Environment Management Authority, and the French Ministry of Ecological Transition, with implementing partners TESS and EIA, will seek to connect the dots between the plastics and climate crises. Carolyn will moderate a discussion among ministers and leading players in the plastics treaty negotiations on how reducing primary plastic polymer production and eliminating high risk plastics can generate co-benefits for the Paris Agreement and plastics treaty goals.

A Contribution to the Global Climate Agenda - Perspectives From the Global Climate Community on Priorities for Cooperation by Trade Ministers

3 December 2023 – 12:00-13:15 – Ecuador Pavilion

This roundtable meeting, co-sponsored by the co-leads of the Coalition of Trade Ministers on Climate Ecuador, the European Union, Kenya, and New Zealand and TESS, will foster a conversation with relevant stakeholders on ways that cooperation on trade can promote on-the-ground climate action, transitions, and resilient development.

Expanding South-South Trade in Low Carbon Technologies for Development and Resilience

3 December 2023 – 13:30-14:30 – Trade House Pavilion

This leaders conversation, hosted by UNCTAD with partners IRENA, South Centre, and TESS, will examine how South-South trade, and more specifically the Global System of Trade Preferences among Developing countries (GSTP), can be harnessed to reap commercial and development benefits from the energy transition in low and zero carbon technologies. The speakers will explore how preferential South-South trade on these technologies can support national determine contributions implementation by developing countries while creating new investment, production, trade, and transfer of technology opportunities.

The Future of Trade in a Net Zero World

3 December 2023 – 16:30-17:30 – Trade House Pavilion

Carolyn will moderate this report launchpad hosted by the WTO with partners European Climate Foundation. The speakers will discuss the findings of the Future of Trade in a Net Zero World report and discuss strategic options with the potential to drive taxation and finance reform, value creation in clean energy supply chains, corporate responsibility, and new trade rules underpinning climate action.

Connecting Climate Mitigation to Depolluting Oceans Through Concrete Solutions in the Pacific Islands

4 December 2023 – 09:00-09:50 – Moana Blue Pacific Pavilion

At this high-level event, hosted by the Secretariat of the Basel, Rotterdam, and Stockholm Conventions, Carolyn will moderate a discussion on how the Pacific Islands strive towards achieving sustainable waste management, control of flows of plastic wastes, and reductions of greenhouse gases emissions.

Climate Transition for SIDS, LLDCs and LDCs – Role of Trade & Small Business

4 December 2023 – 16:30-17:30 – Trade House Pavilion

This stakeholders’ dialogue, hosted by ITC with partners UN-OHRLLS and the Caribbean Development Bank, will explore the importance and enabling conditions of small business climate action in SIDS, LLDCs and LDCs in the context of climate and financial justice. Carolyn will moderate as voices from SIDS, LLDCs, and LDCs, United Nations agencies, and key stakeholders explore the role and recommendations for access to climate finance for small business and marginalized communities as well as sustainable and innovative business models and enabling policy conditions.

Mitigating Climate Change with Trade-Related Regulations

5 December 2023 – 13:30-14:30 – Trade House Pavilion

This stakeholders’ dialogue, hosted by UNCTAD with partners WTO, IISD, and TESS, will launch recent WTO and UNCTAD publications on trade and climate change that focus on technical regulations and discuss their potential as a tool to mitigate climate change. The speakers will explore how trade regulations can play an important role in supporting the transition towards a low-carbon economy. Carolyn will speak on the findings of a recent report of an international legal experts group, published by TESS, on principles of international law relevant for consideration by policymakers in the design and implementation of trade-related climate measures and policies.

The Coalition of Trade Ministers on Climate at COP28

Shaping Ministerial Leadership and Collective Action for Trade and Climate Change

4 December 2023 – 15:00-16:00 – Trade House Pavilion

This leaders conversation, jointly organized by the WTO, UNCTAD and ITC, will engage ministers from the Coalition of Trade Ministers on Climate and heads of agencies on fostering inclusive international cooperation and collective action to promote a positive trade contribution to the climate agenda. The event will highlight the importance of ministerial leadership for inclusive international cooperation on trade, climate. and sustainable development.

TESS, the Climate Crisis, and Sustainable Development

At TESS, our participation at COP28 is part of a wider set of activities on the nexus between climate, trade, and sustainable development. This includes work on how trade rules and policies need to be rethought, reformed, updated, or clarified to drive ambitious climate action at speed and scale in ways that support inclusive international cooperation, climate-resilient sustainable development, and fair and just transitions. Our activities also include work with partner organizations and experts on how trade and trade policies can support the national and regional climate goals and priorities of developing countries.

In case you missed it:

Principles of International Law Relevant for Consideration in the Design and Implementation of Trade-Related Climate Measures and Policies

We invite you to explore our report by a group of eminent international experts on international law relating to trade and to climate. Convened by TESS, the group’s report provides independent guidance on principles of international law relevant for consideration by policymakers in the design and implementation of trade-related climate measures and policies.

The report aims to inform and foster mutual understanding, dialogue, and international cooperation on the design and implementation of trade-related climate measures and policies in the context of sustainable development priorities. You can also read this commentary.

Regional Perspectives on Trade, Climate, and Sustainable Development

This regional series of policy papers explores how international cooperation on trade and trade-related policies can support the climate change mitigation and adaptation efforts and priorities of developing countries and foster pathways to climate-resilient development. In a first phase, the series offers views from Africa, the Caribbean, South America, and Southeast Asia. Each paper has been prepared by experts and in partnership with institutions from the region.

The series is part of our initiative on developing country perspectives on trade, climate, and sustainable development.

For more information and resources, visit our thematic work on the climate crisis.