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13 Jul 2021

Liz May

Report: How trade can support climate action - a 2021 agenda for the UK

'How trade can support climate action - a 2021 agenda for the UK', 13 July 2021

"A wave of energy around tackling the climate emergency is building ahead of the Conference of the Parties (COP) 26 Summit to be held in Glasgow in November 2021. In June the G7 promised “a green revolution that creates jobs, cuts emissions and seeks to limit the rise in global temperatures to 1.5 degrees.”

US President Joe Biden opened the April Leaders Summit on Climate saying “The signs are unmistakable, the science is undeniable, and the cost of inaction keeps mounting. The US isn't waiting, we are resolving to take action.”

Echoing this sentiment, UK Prime Minister, Boris Johnson said “The 2020s will be remembered either as the decade in which world leaders united to turn the tide, or as a failure.” He called on leaders to come to the COP26 Summit “armed with ambitious targets and the plans required to reach them.”3 In November 2020 Johnson announced the UK’s “Ten Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution” which clearly shows that action to tackle climate change is also seen as an opportunity to deliver the government’s levelling up agenda and improve lives through the creation of green jobs, clean air, warm homes and well-functioning transport systems. But practical progress is too slow...

...This briefing outlines how three important pillars of the UK’s approach to tackling climate change – decarbonising the economy, creating green jobs and industries and delivering more sustainable food and farming systems could either be helped or hindered by trade rules. It makes practical recommendations for how the UK can:

1. Develop a more coherent domestic approach, deliberately designing trade policy to support climate ambitions.

2. Use the opportunities of COP 26 and the WTO Ministerial Summit in 2021 to lead international efforts to bring trade rules into the service of climate action.

The global response to the Covid 19 pandemic demonstrates that in times of real emergency, governments can quickly throw off old ways of thinking and rules that once seemed sacrosanct can be gone in the blink of an eye. Governments around the world are committed to Build Back Better and a fresh approach to trade must be central to this..."