Trade War Looms With Failure of the Kyoto Protocol

Published: Wed 7 Dec 2011 10:33 AM
December 5, 2011
Durban, South Africa – Global trade expert, World Growth Chairman Ambassador Alan Oxley, a former Ambassador to and Chairman of the GATT, warned today that if the imminent failure of the Kyoto Protocol drives the EU to expand use of climate change trade barriers, it could trigger a trade war in which it could be the major loser.
Ambassador Oxley’s comments came following a special seminar on Trade and Climate Change today in Durban hosted by the WTO, South African Department of Trade and Industry and the International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development (ICTSD), where World Growth released a new report, “Avoiding Green Protectionism.” The report demonstrates that if officials and negotiators ensured measures they adopted did not impede free markets, they would not need to resort to growth-sapping unilateral trade barriers.
World Growth Chairman Ambassador Oxley made the following statement:
“Now it is clear the Kyoto Protocol has failed, we should expect environmental NGOs to demand green trade barriers against imports from those who would not make the cuts proposed in the Protocol. Instead of winding EU measures back, European environmental officials are likely to insist the EU impose more green trade barriers.
“Unilateral trade barriers like this simply invite retaliation against EU exports and the EU would be the biggest loser. I could not imagine the Trade Directorate of the European Commission relishing a trade war with India, China, Canada, the US and developing countries.
“Yet European governments have shown themselves to be swayed by environmental ideologues that don’t care about such things. Others are anticipating this. India has already foreshadowed a resolution for the Durban meeting to proscribe such measures. Along with China and the US, India had already objected to the EU plan to impose carbon penalties on airlines that did not have controls on emissions comparable to the EU’s.”
Ambassador Oxley also pointed out airline carbon taxes are not the first EU carbon trade barrier - the EU is already imposing restrictions on imports of biofuels and now timber products.
Other members of the WTO, namely Brazil, Indonesia, Malaysia and the United States have already complained about discriminatory EU restrictions on biofuel imports, noted Ambassador Oxley.
“And now Canada’s former Ambassador to the WTO, John Weekes, has called for Canada to file a legal complaint against the EU’s Fuel Quality Directive on similar grounds.
“The decade of campaigning for the Kyoto Protocol emboldened environmental groups like Greenpeace and WWF to push for anti-dumping penalties to restrict imports of timber products and now biofuels, such as palm oil.
“The illegal logging trade bans are ugly, blunt tools and the wrong response – the incidence of illegal logging worldwide is small and declining. These bans are being promoted by Green groups as part of their global campaign to restrict commercial forestry.
“The resort to Green Protectionism is as futile as the effort to secure global support for the cut in emissions mandated in the Kyoto Protocol. If environmental officials had paid attention to this simple fact when the Protocol was negotiated, there might today be on the table the basis for global agreement to reduce emissions which most countries could support.”
Click here to read the paper, Avoiding Green Protectionism.
About World Growth
World Growth is an international non-governmental organization established with an educational and charitable mission to expand the education, information and other resources available to disadvantaged populations to improve their health and economic welfare. At World Growth, we embrace and celebrate the new age of globalization and the power of free trade to eradicate poverty and improve living conditions for people in the developing world. For more information on World Growth, visit
© 2007 World Growth

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