News - News

07 June 2024

TESS Discusses Trade and Climate Policies at Climate Overshoot Commission High-Level Event

On 5 June, TESS Executive Director Carolyn Deere Birkbeck participated in a high-level event on “Trade to reduce the risks of climate overshoot.” At the event, Carolyn spoke to the role of academia and civil society groups on the intersection of trade and climate policies and how the transition from fossil fuels is reshaping patterns of comparative advantage in global trade and the implications of this shift.

According to the 2023 report of the Climate Overshoot Commission, the risk of climate overshoot—i.e. of exceeding the Paris Agreement goal of limiting average global warming to 1.5°C—is high and rising. To address the risks of this overshoot, an enabling environment is necessary to facilitate the achievement of ambitious emissions reduction goals by all countries. The shift towards a net-zero emissions economy presents both challenges and opportunities for global trade.

Trade Contributions to Address Overshoot Risks

The high-level event discussed the climate impacts on trade and how trade mechanisms can support the global response to the climate crisis and reduce the related risks. It explored how trade and trade policies can serve as powerful tools to advance the shift towards a low-carbon economy and ensuring equitable market access for developing countries, and the importance of international cooperation to ensure approaches that are both effective and fair.

Speakers also discussed how the climate crisis is set to impact production and distribution patterns and the need to significantly reduce emissions associated with traded goods and services to achieve the decarbonization of supply chains.

In their interventions, speakers explored the ways to transform global trade to address the climate emergency, highlighting innovative initiatives and trade policy tools and options that can support efforts to reach net-zero emissions.

Collaborative Approaches and Transcending Policy Silos

In her comments, Carolyn Deere Birkbeck highlighted the need for cooperative frameworks and collaborative approaches to the nexus of climate, trade and sustainable development. She highlighted the importance of a cooperative approach to international trade to transition to sustainable, decarbonized trade, scale up and speed up climate action, and support climate cooperation. She noted the importance of trade-related challenges linked to climate adaptation, impacts, and risks alongside the more widely discussed mitigation agenda. To enable fair transitions, she emphasized strategies, partnerships, and policies that support financing and responsible investments for sustainable and equitable supply chains and that facilitate technology and knowledge transfer.

She further emphasized that tackling the climate crisis requires us to transcend policy silos and foster collaboration across disciplines, sectors, governments, and ministries. Civil society and academia have a key role to play in promoting cross-national cooperation, identifying concrete actions, enhancing transparency, and providing evidence and data reflecting on the ground-realities that can hold governments to account. She emphasized the importance of consultative processes nationally to draw on the expertise of academia and civil society, along with the private sector, in developing national trade-related climate strategies.

The Climate Overshoot Commission

The Climate Overshoot Commission was formed in May 2022 to consider the potential benefits, opportunities, and risks of a wide range of climate action approaches to minimize further increases in global temperatures and to reduce and manage the heightened risk of overshoot. In September 2023, the Commission released its report on Reducing the Risks of Climate Overshoot, which includes an integrated set of recommendations.