Trade and Climate
Ensuring Trade Rules Don't Undermine Climate Policy
In the past year, we have witnessed an alarming rise of international trade and investment disputes related to renewable energy and climate policies. Governments are increasingly filing trade cases to challenge other governments' policies on, for example, subsidies, procurement, and performance requirements related to renewable energy. As just a few examples, Japan and the European Union have recently challenged the Ontario, Canada's, feed in tariff program. And there are a number of trade disputes now between the United States and China that affect wind turbines, rare earth materials, and solar panels.
The proliferation of trade cases that challenge renewable energy policies stem from a number of reasons. First, governments are recognizing the need to tackle the climate crisis and are increasingly putting in place policies that encourage the development and deployment of climate friendly technologies. Second, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) has not reached an agreement on the future of the multilateral regime or to address potential conflicts with trade rules. As a result, climate policies are being judged at the World Trade Organization (WTO) and similar venues based on trade law and policy with a strong "free market bias," rather than climate science and policy.
US Challenges India's National Solar Program at the World Trade Organization
On February 6, 2013, the United States filed a case at the World Trade Organization (WTO) that challenges the parts of India's solar program designed to help it build up its domestic solar industry. If the case moves forward, it could threaten Indiaâ€™s ability to transition to a clean energy economy and ultimately threaten global efforts to combat climate change. Trade rules must not stand in the way of governments' efforts to combat climate change! Read more here.
Read a letter that a dozen U.S. environmental organizations recently sent to the acting U.S. Trade Representative, urging the United States to agree to a solution that allows India to support and build its domestic solar industry, just as we must do at home.
New! In April 2014 the US Trade Representative (USTR) formally requested that a World Trade Organization panel investigate whether buy-local rules in India's solar program violates international trade rules. In advance of the US request, 15 environmental organisations sent a letter to the USTR with strong concerns and urged the U.S. to not move forward with the case. Read the letter here.
World Trade Organization Finds that Ontario, Canada's Renewable Energy Incentives Program Violates Trade Rules
Ontario's feed-in tariff (FIT) program, which incentivizes investment in and production of renewable energy, has come under fire at the World Trade Organization (WTO). The program has enjoyed success and acclaim in incentivizing the production of clean energy and the creation of green jobs -- both key elements of tackling the climate crisis. However, the WTO ruled that the "buy local" components of the program violate WTO rules. Read about the case, and what's at stake, here.
Read our letter to the US Trade Representative regarding a WTO challenge to Ontario's feed-in tariff program.
Supporting Responsible Trade: The Sierra Club thanks Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) for introducing S. 3347, the 21st Century Trade Agreements and Market Access Act. Find out more.