The U.S., the European Union, and 25 others announced Jan. 19 the launch of the Coalition of Trade Ministers on Climate, which will promote trade policies that can help address climate change through local and global initiatives. The coalition’s work could help stave off potential trade disputes over policies aimed at greening the world’s economies, such as manufacturing subsidies in the U.S. and the European Union’s carbon border adjustment mechanism.

A statement from coalition members said international trade “can and must make a positive contribution to driving down greenhouse gas emissions, enabling a just transition to climate neutral, resilient, and sustainable economies by mid-century.”

To advance this effort coalition members plan to provide high-level political direction and guidance on issues concerning the nexus of trade, climate, and sustainable development. This will include promoting trade and investment that foster the diffusion, development, accessibility, and uptake of goods, services, and technologies that support climate mitigation and adaptation in both developed and developing countries. Members will also work to identify trade-related strategies supportive of the most vulnerable developing and least-developed countries that face the greatest risks from climate change, and to promote trade policies that pursue climate action across the World Trade Organization and relevant multilateral, plurilateral, regional, and sectoral initiatives.

“Some of the key climate deliverables for trade ministers will ultimately sit with the WTO – for example greening subsidy rules, agreeing new methodologies, or updating rules on process and production methods,” according to a blog post from E3G, which bills itself as an independent climate change think tank. But there are also “trade-related aspects to the whole spectrum of international climate initiatives – whether those be concerned with energy, transport, industry, or agriculture – which trade ministers could usefully help steer.”

According to the European Commission, the coalition consists of more than 50 ministers from 27 jurisdictions so far and is open to all interested countries. The four co-leads are Ecuador, the EU, Kenya, and New Zealand and the other participants are Angola, Australia, Barbados, Cabo Verde, Canada, Colombia, Costa Rica, Iceland, Gambia, Japan, Korea, Maldives, Mozambique, Norway, Philippines, Rwanda, Zambia, Singapore, Switzerland, Ukraine, United Kingdom, U.S., and Vanuatu.

A coalition ministerial meeting is planned in conjunction with the next World Trade Organization ministerial meeting in early 2024.

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