Briefings Letter to Anne-Marie Trevelyan and Alok Sharma ahead of WTO ministerial

READING TIME 5 mins mins

Letter to Anne-Marie Trevelyan and Alok Sharma ahead of WTO ministerial

24th November 2021

Civil society organisations have today written to Anne-Marie Trevelyan, Secretary of State for International Trade and Alok Sharma, President of COP26 to urge them to ensure trade rules don't stand in the way of climate action.

The WTO's twelfth ministerial conference comes hot on the heels of the COP26 conference in Glasgow. Starting on the 29th November, there are a number of proposals on the table that make reference to climate or the environment. However none of the proposals are binding, unlike other commitments at the WTO.

Existing, binding trade rules are already preventing climate action. For example countries including the EU, Canada, the US and India have been challenged for supporting their renewable energy sectors. Rules that extend patent terms could make it harder to ensure the wide dissemination of green technology that the UNFCCC say is so urgently needed.

In this letter, we call on the UK government to:

  • Work with partners to create a forum to bring trade, environment and development Ministers together to discuss this agenda, ideally via UNCTAD and the UNFCCC;
  • Ensure trade agreements give priority to the needs of the Global South by upholding the aligned principles of Special and Differential Treatment at the WTO, and Common but Differentiated Responsibility under the UNFCCC;
  • Put pressure on the WTO to change its rules to ensure that they do not slow down, constrict, raise the cost of or otherwise interfere with climate action. The first step should be a fast and comprehensive “climate waiver” that prohibits countries from challenging each others’ climate policies under the WTO;
  • Work at the WTO and in bilateral deals to expand policy space for green industrial policies that support decent jobs; enhance intellectual property rights flexibilities and technology transfer incentives for climate and environment-related goods; and support the transition to renewable energy in the South.
  • Immediately phase out the most damaging aspects of UK trade agreements, including investor-to-state dispute settlement (ISDS) mechanisms and work with other countries to do the same.
  • Ensure meaningful engagement with a broad range of stakeholders.


trade and climate change WTO