The WTO and the Environment: Its Past Record is Better than Critics Believe, But the Future Outlook is Bleak
12 Pages Posted: 25 Oct 2004 Last revised: 29 Jun 2010
Date Written: June 29, 2010
This article argues that the WTO's past environmental record is much better than critics would have it. Its jurisprudence has become increasingly environmentally friendly and many charges against the dispute settlement process are based on misunderstandings. WTO rules have, so far at least, not deterred any multilateral environmental agreements. The lack of ambitious environmental protection measures is not the fault of the WTO, but the responsibility of policy makers from its member states. At the same time, the WTO has done little to actually promote environmental protection and the treatment of the precautionary principle in WTO rules is highly unsatisfactory. Unfortunately, this is unlikely to change in the future. The reason for this is that there is not enough support among member countries, particularly those from the developing world, to render the multilateral trade regime more environmentally friendly. The challenge is to green WTO rules in a way that is beneficial and therefore acceptable to developing countries.
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By Claire Kelly