Climate Change and Trade
Meeting Ayman Shasly, lead negotiator of Saudi Arabia, coordinator if G77 in response measuresThe Paris Agreement and SDG 13
The post-2015 development agenda underpinned by the Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Agreement bring together the two grand frontiers - climate change and sustainable development.
The Paris Agreement and Parties' commitments - the so-called Nationally Determined Contributions  - will mean big changes for their trading partners as the effects of those commitments start playing out in trade flows and trade policies around the world. A spectrum of alternative ways of reacting to this new reality has already been foreshadowed by competitiveness concerns, with trade traditionally being treated as part of the problem.  It is even more important is to take a closer look at the large - and largely unexplored - potential for trade to be part of the solution.

Response measures and trade
Meeting Tomasz Chrushzhow, Chair of Subsidiary Body for Implemenration, Special Envoy for COP 24In Paris, Parties agreed to continue addressing the economic and social impact of response measures to climate change, taking fully into account the special needs of developing countries. It was also agreed to continue with the work of the Forum on Response Measures. A three-year work programme, adopted in May 2016, focuses on "economic diversification" and on "a just transition of the workforce and the creation of decent work and quality jobs".
Historically related to compensation to oil-producing countries for not exploiting their reserves, the notion of response measures has evolved and is now seen in the context of sustainable development and as a form of international cooperation. Trade serves as a transmission mechanism for cross-border impacts and is traditionally seen through the lens of a competitive relationship, but it has an enormous cooperation potential, too. The challenge is to change the approach from one of allocating or shifting burdens among countries through trade restrictive measures, to figuring out ways in which trade could help all countries share the benefits of transforming their economies.

Implementing NDCs and leveraging the co-benefits
With the development agenda becoming an increasingly important component of climate change mitigation, the scope for mutual supportiveness or, to put it in the IPCC parlance, complimentary benefits, or co-benefits is bound to increase.  Policies with multiple benefits - co-benefits - including social outcomes can be an effective way to muster support for climate policies and achieve greater levels of ambition.
Along with finance and technology, trade acts as an enabler, cutting across the various domains relevant to climate policy and sustainable development.   At the same time, climate policies can and do influence trade among countries, promoting more sustainable emission patterns and greater resilience for enterprises in particular for small businesses.

UNCTAD's activities relating to SDG 13 seek (i) to strengthen the capacity of beneficiary countries to address response measures in the context of sustainable development and as a form of international cooperation, and (ii) to explore the role of trade in implementing Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) and in leveraging the various co-benefits, including economic and social outcomes.
Analytical work has brought into focus (i) the role of value chains in the interface between response measures and trade, and (ii) trade-related measures in countries' NDCs.
A working paper, a study and a compendium produced under this stream of work served as a background documentation for an ad hoc expert group meeting, entitled: Implementing Paris Agreement: Response Measures, Economic Diversification and Trade, held in October 2017. The meeting brought together some of the key actors in the UNFCCC Forum on Response Measures and the three Geneva-based trade agencies - UNCTAD, WTO and ITC, with UNCTAD playing a coordinating role.
Following the meeting, UNCTAD organized informal consultations among the agencies concerned. In the run up to COP 23 in Bonn, UNCTAD made a formal submission to the UNFCCC relating to the Forum on Response Measures and its work programme.
During the high-level segment of COP 23, UNCTAD delegation, led by Deputy Secretary General, held a series of bilateral meetings, including with the Chair of the Subsidiary Body for Implementation, as special envoy of the Polish presidency for COP 24, and the coordinator of G-77 on response measures. UNCTAD, in cooperation with the UNFCCC and as part of the official COP 23 programme, also organized a special event, entitled: Economic Diversification, Just Transition of Work Force and Value Chains in the Context of Sustainable Development.
During the 11th Ministerial Conference in Buenos Aires in December 2017, UNCTAD, in cooperation with the Commonwealth Secretariat, held a special event on climate change and trade.

 Meetings and Events

Start DateTitleLocationCountry
10 Dec 2017Trade and Climate Change: Challenges and Opportunities for Small Developing Countries, LDCs, and Countries in Sub-Saharan AfricaBuenos AiresArgentina
16 Nov 2017COP23 Side Event: Economic diversification, just transition of workforce and global value chain in context of sustainable developmentBonnGermany
03 Oct 2017Ad Hoc Expert Group Meeting on Implementing The Paris Agreement: Response Measures and TradeGenevaSwitzerland
27-30 Jun 2017African Carbon Forum 2017CotonouBenin
12 Nov 2016COP22 Side Event on Implementing the Paris Agreement: United Nations Agencies' Dialogue on Impacts of Mitigation Measures and Linkages with TradeMarrakeshMorocco
09 Dec 2015COP21 High-level meeting: Climate Change and the Role of Markets and Trade: Leveraging Co-benefitsParisFrance
10 Feb 2015Briefing session on climate change, sustainable development goals and trade: At the crossroads of sustainable developmentGenevaSwitzerland
10 Dec 2014BioTrade, market innovation and social inclusion in climate diverse scenarios - Side event to the UNFCCC COP 20LimaPeru
02 Jul 2014Bioenergy in the context of the SDGs at the African Carbon Forum 2014WindhoekNamibia
03-04 Apr 2014Green Economy and Trade. Ad hoc Expert Group 2: Trade Remedies in Green Sectors: the Case of RenewablesGenevaSwitzerland
18 Sep 2013Launch of the Trade and Environment Review 2013
04 Jul 2013UNCTAD Bioenergy session at the African Carbon Forum 2013AbidjanCôte d’Ivoire
12-13 Jun 2013Green Economy and Trade. Ad hoc Expert Group 1: Domestic Requirements and Support Measures in Green Sectors: Economic and Environmental Effectiveness and Implications for TradeGenevaSwitzerland
27-31 May 2013Workshop on South-North-South Dissemination of Bioenergy Technologies and PracticesStockholmSweden
19 Mar 2013Trends in Global Biofuels Markets: Sustainability Policy and TradeGenevaSwitzerland
19 Jun 2012Biofuels Side Event: No One-Size-Fits-All: Exploring New Sustainable and Socially Inclusive Biofuels Experiences in Developing and Least Developed CountriesRio de Janeiro, BrazilBrazil
26 Jan 2010Sustainable Management: Climate-change Mitigation and Resource/Material Efficiency - What is Myth and what Reality?BerlinGermany



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Goal 15
09 October 2017Economic diversification even more crucial as the fight against climate change revs up
COP 22
12 November 2016COP22: Geneva-based agencies highlight important role of trade in addressing climate change
03 September 2015Trade and Climate Change Policy Beyond 2015
CAF Development Bank of Latin America
18 May 2015Development Bank of Latin America (CAF) and UNCTAD formalize partnership
WTO logo
29 April 2015Trade, poverty reduction and protecting the environment go hand in hand, says UNCTAD Deputy Secretary-General
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