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“Trade,” Energy and Climate Change Policy

This page is no longer being updated by Public Citizen and exists for archival purposes only.

WTO’s General Agreement on Trade in Services and FTA Services Chapter

Creating effective policies to address the global climate emergency is one of our world’s most urgent tasks. However, many trade law experts believe that current WTO rules pose serious constraints on how nations may respond to this critical challenge. In fact, Mitsuo Matsushita, a member of the WTO tribunal that ruled against the U.S. Clean Air Act in the WTO’s first dispute resolution case in 1996, notes that by signing the WTO, governments have already empowered the WTO to “allow Member Nations to challenge almost any measure to reduce greenhouse gas emissions enacted by any other Member.”

Implementation of the climate policy proposals Obama promoted during the 2008 campaign – and policies promoted by leaders of other nations as well – will require changes to WTO rules.

Featured resources

See Public Citizen’s 2008 report, Presidential Candidates’ Key Proposals on Health Care and Climate Will Require WTO Modifications.

Also, be sure to check out “Cooling the Planet Without Chilling Trade” in the Washington Post. Unlikely coauthors, GTW Director Lori Wallach and Peterson Institute Director Fred Bergsten, team up in this November 2009 op-ed to argue that climate change policy can be achieved without derailing trade.