On 10 March, the New Zealand Embassy and SEI will host a seminar on trade policy, climate change and sustainable development. The event will begin with keynote addresses by ministers and representatives from the Swedish, New Zealand and British governments, hearing about their respective priorities for climate change, trade and sustainable development. Two high-level panel discussions will follow on Promoting fossil fuel subsidy reform and The role of carbon border adjustments.
Through this event we hope to bring together agendas on trade and climate change to help achieve the Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Agreement on climate change.
Background to the event
Climate change, trade, and sustainable development agendas are increasingly converging. Acknowledging the role of trade as an engine for sustainable development, countries have begun how new trade rules can be designed to help achieve the Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Agreement on climate change. One example is the announced Agreement on Climate Change, Trade and Sustainability (ACCTS), which will be negotiated between Costa Rica, Fiji, Iceland, New Zealand, Norway, and Switzerland. At the same time, the role of trade policy is receiving mounting attention with decision-makers in different parts of the world considering the use of trade measures to achieve climate goals. Notably, the announcement by the new European Commission that it seeks to introduce a carbon border adjustment mechanism raises new questions about the role and implications of such measures and how their design could align with World Trade Organization (WTO) rules.
In the run-up to the next major climate summit in Glasgow, UK (COP26) in November, as well as the next Ministerial Conference of the WTO in Nur Sultan, Kazakhstan (MC12) in June, this seminar will offer a timely opportunity to explore how the trade, climate change, and sustainable development agendas can be made mutually supportive.
Ambassador Andrew Jenks, New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade and Åsa Persson, Deputy Director, SEI opened the event, highlighting the importance of the seminar in the run-up to COP 26.
Krister Nilsson, State Secretary for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs gave a keynote speech at the seminar. He outlined Sweden’s priorities for climate change, trade and sustainable development, highlighting the importance of viewing trade policy and climate policy together if environmentally-sound solutions are to be found.
Ambassador Judith Gough, UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office set out the UK’s priorities for COP 26. She said that clean growth, finance, nature, and resilience and adaptation would be the focus areas of the government’s approach to COP 26.
“We must shake up the economic model so that it doesn’t pay to destroy the environment”
— Ambassador Judith Gough, UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Two lively panel discussions took place with experts from various sectors. The first discussion on ‘Promoting fossil fuel subsidy reform’ was moderated by Jakob Skovgaard, Associate Professor, Lund University. Panelists included:
- Peter Wooders, Group Director, Energy, International Institute for Sustainable Development
- Ronald Steenblik, Senior Fellow, International Institute for Sustainable Development
- Lourdes Sanchez, International Institute for Sustainable Development
The second panel discussion on ‘The role of carbon border adjustments’ was moderated by Robert Watt, Communications Director, SEI. Panelists included:
- Susanne Åkerfeldt, Senior Legal Adviser, Swedish Ministry of Finance
- Harro van Asselt, Professor of Climate Law and Policy, University of Eastern Finland Law School; Associate, Stockholm Environment Institute
- Peter Kleen, Senior Fellow, European Centre for International Political Economy
“Fossil fuel subsidies are the height of policy incoherence on an issue where we cannot afford to carry on the mistakes of the past”
— Ambassador Andrew Jenks, New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade