Coordinating UK trade and climate policy ambitions: a legislative and policy analysis
Lydgate, E and Anthony, C (2021) ‘Coordinating UK trade and climate policy ambitions: a legislative and policy analysis’. Environmental Law Review, 22 (4). pp. 280-295. ISSN 1461-4529
Published 20 July 2022
This paper considers how to reconcile liberal trade policy with a net-zero target. After setting out the relevance of trade policy to the climate target, the authors examine areas at their intersection: current and proposed UK green subsidies, regulatory trade barriers, potential carbon border adjustment, fossil fuel subsidies and free trade agreements applying two analytical tests: compliance with relevant World Trade Organisation obligations and coherence with the net-zero climate target. The analysis is hindered by uncertainty, primarily regarding the extent of future global climate ambition, but there are clear areas in which the UK could strengthen its approach to climate change mitigation without undermining its commitment to open trade. Barring a major increase in global ambition, achieving the net-zero target will, however, likely require new trade restrictions. The implication is that the climate target must comprise a central objective of trade strategy.