The World Trade Organization. Free Trade and Its Environmental Impacts

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


I will start out with an overview of common assumptions on the impact of free trade on the environment – assumptions which, very much like the first part of Lamy’s statement, are all-encompassing and deterministic. From there, I will narrow down the scope of examination to specific and immediate hardware-to-hardware impacts: akin to the second part of the above statement, the emphasis shall be put on the WTO’s efforts to actively ensure coherence between international trade law and environment regulations. By the same token, I will also take into account the role of countries in these coordinative efforts, which is a third factor named by Lamy. As will be shown, the ongoing deadlock among WTO members on ecological questions has so far prevented a more comprehensive approach, thereby leaving the momentum to the organization’s dispute settlement system. There are currently several ambiguous tendencies in the relationship between WTO law and both domestic and international environmental regulations. With the outcome of these developments still uncertain and a considerable number of proposals at hand, we’re well kept in suspense about the direction which the presumed race to the bottom might finally take. Having affirmed this enduring uncertainty, it is time to bring back to mind that this chapter’s focus on legal overlaps presents but one portion of the highly complex mutual impact between free trade and the global environment. With the future findings of new comprehensive research approaches, especially environmental impact assessments, some of this uncertainty should be transformed into a deeper understanding of the trade-environment nexus.


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Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Political Science


  • WTO, Environment, global governance, interplay, climate change, biodiversity, UNFCCC, Kyoto Protocol, CBD, WTO dispute resolution, WTO law, International Trade, trade, Trade and environment, trade barriers, political ecology
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationHandbook Of Globalization and The Environment
PublisherTaylor & Francis
Publication statusPublished - 2006
Publication categoryResearch

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