Publication: Journal article

How can the WTO and its Ministerial Conference in 2021 be used to support climate action?

Achieving the Paris Agreement’s climate goals requires massive, rapid economic transformation across the globe. As governments implement climate policies, trade tensions are on the rise. Alongside promises to ramp up climate action in advance of the UN Climate Change Conference in November 2021, governments should seize the World Trade Organization’s (WTO’s) 12th Ministerial Conference (MC12) later the same month to foster the multilateral cooperation needed to ensure that trade policy does not pose barriers to ambitious climate policies but rather is part of the solution.

The WTO is the world’s key multilateral forum for trade and has a vital role to play in supporting wider efforts to harness trade policy for climate success. To date, WTO members have failed to take any substantive commitments to cooperate on climate issues or indeed to collectively recognize that the climate topic should be on the WTO agenda at all.

As we face a climate crisis that is more urgent than ever, this is not the time to give up on the WTO. The MC12 provides an important opportunity for governments and stakeholders to make headway on a forward-looking multilateral agenda on climate mitigation and adaptation. Moreover, the prospects of important steps in the right direction at the WTO are more promising this year than ever before.

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