The Overlap between the UN Climate Regime and the World Trade Organization: Lessons for Climate Governance Beyond 2012

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingBook chapter


In this chapter, we focus on one element of the fragmentation of global climate governance, namely the overlap between the UN climate regime and the World Trade Organization (WTO). With a view to the appraisal question for the ‘architecture’ theme of this volume, we hold that this overlap not only implies benefits, but may also entail significant drawbacks for the development and implementation of the UN climate regime. This raises the question how this overlap can be addressed beyond 2012. Our main argument is that, when developing future strategies for managing this interlinkage, policy-makers should draw lessons from the past, that is, from the potential negative effects of this overlap, and from shortcomings of previous management approaches.
In Section 6.2, we introduce our methodology. Section 6.3 introduces major issues on which the two regimes overlap and respective management approaches, which have hardly yielded significant results. In Section 6.4, we discuss policy options that may be suitable to address these unresolved issues and debates in the future. We argue that appropriate strategies need to take into account core reasons for the observed inter- linkages and for previous management failures: the constellation of strategic interests and the partial lack of consensual knowledge on climate–trade overlaps. We therefore suggest bringing in further expertise on climate–trade interlinkages – for example through a separate chapter in the next assessment report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) – as well as strategic issue-linking, for example regarding negotiations on biofuels and the transfer of climate-friendly technologies.


External organisations
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Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Political Science


  • climate governance, UNFCCC, WTO law, WTO, FRAGMENTATION, complexity, institutional analysis, Trade and environment, world trade law, Climate change, Kyoto protocol
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationGlobal Climate Governance Beyond 2012. Architecture, Agency and Adaptation
PublisherCambridge University Press
ISBN (Print)978-0-521-19011-4
Publication statusPublished - 2010
Publication categoryResearch