As climate commitments give way to the nuts and bolts of implementing policy, trade, it appears, is taking a position at centre stage. Capitals are looking to boost the role of renewable energy in their bid to reduce carbon emissions, but some countries are calling foul and asking the WTO to act as referee. In one of the more notable cases, Japan is accusing Canada – in fact, the province of Ontario – of unfairly subsidising local manufacturers through its feed-in-tariff (FIT) system. In this issue, Marie Wilke explores the case, which is being followed closely by both the public and private sectors in the 50-plus countries that have, or are planning to, enact their own FIT systems (click here).
In a related article, IDDRI’s Emmanuel Guérin and Joseph Schiavo look at renewable energy support policies and call on the WTO to help ensure there is a level playing field between countries and industries (click here). Their paper touches on arguably the hottest environment-related dispute currently at the WTO: the US vs. China case over China’s wind power subsidies. In a separate article, Marie Wilke takes a look at the US request for consultations and makes sense of the legal particularities of the case (click here).
We then return to a WTO issue that has been absent from our pages for years: the Tuna-Dolphin case. As the US and Mexico await a ruling on what’s being billed as Tuna-Dolphin II, we explore the case and look at what’s behind the increasing number of disputes over technical and sanitary standards and labelling requirements (click here).
In fact, the issue of standards is increasingly becoming a headache for institutions like the WTO. Private sector standards, often with requirements that exceed those in the public sector, are proliferating, posing challenges both to exporters and trade policy-makers. Makane Moïse Mbengue looks at these standards and explores how they interact with WTO law (click here).
China surprised many manufacturers – including those in the area of green technology – last year when it announced it would impose export quotas on rare earth metals. Beijing has said the cuts are needed because the mining process for many minerals is hazardous to the environment. Bo Ye outlines the justification in terms of WTO law and assesses whether the Middle Kingdom qualifies for an environmental exception (click here).
Finally, Ricardo Meléndez-Ortiz, ICTSD’s Chief Executive, launches the first in a series of BioRes Review special articles that will pave the road to next year’s Earth Summit (Rio+20). In his article, Meléndez-Ortiz reflects on the means, as well as the limits, of the international trade system to provide solutions for sustainability (click here).
We hope you enjoy the issue!
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