The international trade regime has the potential to restructure market relationships in a climate-friendly manner by providing incentives for climate change mitigation and adaptation. Beyond unilateral policy approaches, the WTO regime offers a series of options to make the trade regime work for the climate. These include agreements that aim to phase out trade-distortive fossil fuel subsidies, removing trade barriers for clean energy technologies, advancing negotiations on an agreement on trade in environmental goods and services and providing a platform for green materials clubs. Unfortunately, up to now this potential has not been exploited by WTO member states.
In view of a swift transition towards a low-carbon world, decision makers should make use of the trade policy options outlined in this contribution in line with their national climate policies.