At COP28, the World Trade Organization, WTO, announced its Trade Policy Toolkit.

At COP28, on the 2nd of December 2023, the World Trade Organization, also known as the WTO, released its new trade policy toolkit titled “Trade Policy Tools for Climate Action”. This toolkit has a ten point structure that has been put in place to help governments around the world to set trade policies that will overall increase their mitigation strategies for combatting climate change.

The ten points cover areas that governments have already begun to introduce policies and measures to increase the rate of the transition towards a low carbon economy, that will lead to net zero. These points also contain information on decarbonising supply chains, increasing and improving the movement of goods and services that are considered to be green, and building resilience to the effects of climate change, including extreme weather events.

The ten points within the report are as follows:

  1. Trade Facilitation

  2. Government Procurement

  3. Regulations and Certifications

  4. Services

  5. Import Tariffs

  6. Subsidies

  7. Trade Finance

  8. Food and Agriculture

  9. Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures

  10. Internal Taxation and Carbon Pricing

The aim of this toolkit, set out by the WTO is to encourage the world leaders attending COP28, and others around the world, to use trade as a tool to deliver sustainable development globally.

The WTO’s Environmental Database found that many of their members were already including trade policies within their climate action plans. These members were part of different regions around the world and also were at several stages when regarding sustainable development. The WTO’s members notified the organisation of over 5,000 measures they had put in place that contained climate change objectives.

COP28

The United Nations (UN) stated before the start of COP28, that the world is falling far behind on its targets set out during the 2015 Paris Agreement. In order to help rectify this the WTO hopes that this toolkit will encourage governments worldwide to take the steps necessary to get back on track to reach these targets.

The WTO has made sure that their ten points fit within many of the nationally determined contributions or NDCs. The NDCs are the self-defined climate pledges set out by the countries that were present at the Paris Agreement. These NDCs were put in place to allow countries to have a target when placing policies to mitigate climate change and reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. Every country that attended the Paris Agreement was required to do this and each of their NDCs is to be updated every five years.

Therefore, the role of the toolkit, announced at COP28, is to help those countries that pledged their NDCs to integrate new policies that will increase their success when working towards reaching their targets.

Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, the Director General of the World Trade Organization stated upon the release of the toolkit that:

“The toolkit builds on the Secretariat’s research work to shed light on ways that
trade and trade policy can help accelerate and amplify the impacts of climate action
for the benefit of current and future generations. The lesson is clear: without globally integrated supply chains, getting to net zero emissions by mid-century would become much more expensive.”

The release of this toolkit at COP28 is for it to be used to help countries learn from each other in order to develop the best practices within the trade sector to increase the rate in which the world transitions to create a greener and more sustainable future.

For further information and up to date news on COP28 and its themes, please see our COP28 Focus homepage where you can access all of our guides, news, and reports from the event.