Columbia International Affairs Online: Working Papers

CIAO DATE: 07/2008

The Doha Round and Beyond: Towards a lasting relationship between the WTO and the international environmental regime

Alice Palmer, Richard Tarasofsky

February 2007

Chatham House


The vast majority of the world's governments have signed up to both the rules of the World Trade Organization (WTO) and to the major multilateral environmental agreements (MEAs). However, the relationship between these bodies of law is a troubled one. There are potential conflicts between the rules and procedures, as well as areas where more positive synergies between policy objectives have yet to be achieved. The net effect is legal and political uncertainty, impeding optimal global governance of both trade and environment objectives. In particular, as pressures grow to develop more stringent economic obligations to address global climate change problems, there is an increasing possibility of a damaging clash between the WTO and MEA regimes. This paper sets out options for avoiding these conflicts and building positive relationship between international trade and environmental objectives.