News / Good Trade Campaign

Ten things you should know about trade and climate change

Unions, civil society and aid organisations, led by Trade Justice Movement and including Sustain, came together this month to present 10 ideas on how to ensure the trade system works for the climate.

Credit: Trade Justice Movement

Credit: Trade Justice Movement

The document makes it clear that badly negotiated trade can stop governments making changes to tackle the climate emergency and make it harder to move away from high-emission food systems.

Point five says, "Our food systems generate a third of the world's greenhouse gas emissions: this needs to change. Trade rules make it difficult for countries to stop the import of food produced in ways that hurt the climate. Lower environmental standards mean cheaper production, which can undercut farmers using more sustainable methods. But trade deals also make it harder for countries to introduce policies that support more sustainable food production, for example if they are considered to be ‘too trade-distorting."

The group was convened by the Trade Justice Movement, whose Senior Adviser, Ruth Bergan, said:

“Trade has a huge impact on climate change, emissions from trade make up nearly half of the UK's total. Yet, this relationship still isn’t fully understood. We see a lot of discussions on both climate change and trade, but they are too limited and often treated as two separate issues.

Tackling the climate and environmental crises is more urgent than ever and global momentum to do so is building rapidly. Yet international trade law lags behind and threatens to choke off serious action. The need to reshape trade policy is urgent.”

This is a crucial year for the UK, not only because it is hosting the G7 and COP26, but also because a lot of post-Brexit trade deals are being renegotiated. The UK has a unique opportunity to shape its trade policy so that it is in line with its climate and environmental commitments.

This new initiative shows the links between trade and climate change in 10 short bullet points. It shows how trade can play a role in helping the UK reach its climate targets, but only if it rethinks its approach to trade.

The organisations that support the call for trade to support climate action include the Trade Justice Movement, Fair Trade Wales, Cafod, Compassion in World Farming, Friends of the Earth, Global Justice Now, Greenpeace, Public and Commercial Services Union, Sustain, Traidcraft Exchange, Unison and War on Want.


Published 21 Jun 2021

Good Trade Campaign: Campaigning for good trade that benefits people and the planet at home and overseas.

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