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Making Trade Agreements dependent on effective compliance with the Paris Agreement

Mathilde Dupré, 29 March 2018

[English] [français]

Whether he attends the COP23 summit or at Davos, the French President Emmanuel Macron suggests more and more clearly in his speeches that trade policy should be made compatible with the efforts of the international community in the fight against climate change.

In spite of the Paris Agreements commitments to limit global warming to well-below 2°C, and to tend towards 1.5°C, the climate change is only getting worse. Individual targets set by the States are clearly insufficient to achieve this target ; if the climate change follows its current path, the global warming might exceed 3 or 4 °C by the end of the century. According to the upcoming IPCC report whose results have leaked to the press, there is a "very high risk" for the 1.5°C limit to be reached as early as in 2040. The total greenhouse gas emissions remained stable during several years but picked up once more in 2017.

In view of these facts, the French President highlighted once more the need to better integrate this issue in the trade policy, in a speech given in Brussels on March 22nd:

" In the agreements we negotiate, in the trade policy we develop, we cannot continue to pursue objectives which are sometimes contrary to our own policy within our borders – because by doing so, we are discouraging economic actors and investors from whom we are demanding efforts." (...)

"I personnally wish that international agreements, by reversing our philosophy so to speak, as well as the burden of proof, become an important vehicle for disseminating our standards and for upgrading international norms and standards, and that any party to a trade agreement with the European Union commit to make real the Paris climate agreement."

However, the proposals put forward by France in the context of the CETA Action Plan do not match up to this ambition. This is why the Veblen Institute, together with the FNH and the French Climate Action Network, makes a proposal to suppress all of the anti-climate (“climaticide”) provisions included in current trade agreements (such as CETA and JEFTA) and to make these trade agreements truly dependent on compliance with commitments made as part of the Paris Agreement.

Such a measure would contribute to make the Paris Agreement more binding than it currently is, by sanctionning any rollback of national climate commitments, including both GHG emissions reductions and climate finance.

Naturally, such a measure should not give States any excuse to not increase their national climate contributions. These contributions should start this year, prior to the COP24, in the context of the Talanoa Dialogue.

This note has been published by The French Climate Action Network, the Foundation for Nature and Humanity (FNH) and the Veblen Institute.

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