The World Trade Organization's Role in Global Energy Governance
Palgrave Handbook on the International Political Economy of Energy (Thijs Van de Graaf, Benjamin K. Sovacool, Florian Kern, Arunabha Ghosh & Michael T. Klare, eds., 2016), Forthcoming
33 Pages Posted: 5 Feb 2016
Date Written: February 4, 2016
The World Trade Organization is by many accounts the most successful international organization in history. Yet it has been slow to address head-on the problems in one of the largest sectors of the global economy – energy. Indeed, fuel exports alone constitute roughly 18% of global merchandise exports, the single largest category. Historically, this reluctance to engage with energy can be explained partially by the fact that many major fossil fuel-producing nations were outside of the GATT. Today, however, most such nations are WTO members. While the WTO dispute settlement system has become an active tool for regulating government support of the renewable energy sector, active WTO regulation of the fossil fuel sector remains limited. This chapter, prepared for the Palgrave Handbook on the International Political Economy of Energy, presents an overview of WTO rules and how they apply or might apply to the energy sector. It further argues that this differential treatment between fossil fuels and renewable energy reflects a) the greater number, and the identity, of nations that aspire to be "producers" of renewable energy, and b) the expected growth in renewable energy in years to come.
Keywords: energy, World Trade Organization, WTO, fossil fuels, renewable energy, global governance
JEL Classification: K33, N70
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation