Using the WTO to Facilitate the Paris Agreement: A Tripartite Approach

By Eliason, Antonia | Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law, May 2019 | Go to article overview

Using the WTO to Facilitate the Paris Agreement: A Tripartite Approach


Eliason, Antonia, Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law


TABLE OF CONTENTS  I.     INTRODUCTION                               547 II.    BACKGROUND                                 550        A. The Anthropocene                        550        B. The Paris Agreement                     551 III.   SUSTAINABLE dEVELOPMENT                    554        A. Preamble to the GATT and the Agreement           Establishing the WTO                    556        B. Article XX and the Environment          560 IV.    EXCEPTIONS AND WAIVERS                     561 V.     SPECIAL & dIFFERENTIAL TREATMENT           566        A. A Trade and Climate Change Agreement    567 VI.    CHALLENGES TO tHIS aPPROACH                571 VII.   GOING BEYOND: ADDRESSING CLIMATE CHANGE    573 VIII.  CONCLUSION                                 575  
The Anthropocene is a series of metabolic rifts, where one molecule  after another is extracted by labor and technique to make things for  humans, but the waste products don't return so that the cycle can renew  itself. The soils deplete, the seas recede, the climate alters, the  gyre widens: a world on fire. --McKenzie Wark (1) Precarity is the condition of being vulnerable to others. Unpredictable  encounters transform us; we are not in control, even of ourselves.  Unable to rely on a stable structure of community, we are thrown into  shifting assemblages, which remake us as well as our others. We can't  rely on the status quo; everything is in flux, including our ability to  survive. Thinking through precarity changes social analysis. A  precarious world is a world without teleology. Indeterminacy, the  unplanned nature of time, is frightening, but thinking through  precarity makes it evident that indeterminacy also makes life possible. --Anna Lowenhaupt Tsing (2) 

I. INTRODUCTION

The world in which humankind lives today is one indelibly changed by human activity, so much so that scientists have designated a new geological epoch that began with the advent of the Industrial Revolution: the Anthropocene. (3) Climate change, which is the greatest threat humanity has ever faced, is a result of human activity in the Anthropocene, particularly by countries of the Global North. From rising ocean levels to temperature increases and more frequent extreme weather events, its effects can be seen across the globe. (4) Scientists have been ringing alarm bells for decades, but only in the past few years has the international legal community given the issue the attention it deserves. With the conclusion of the Paris Agreement in December 2015, the world came together for the first time to address the effects of climate change, with all countries recognizing the necessity of taking measures to mitigate and adapt to the effects of climate change. (5)

The challenges posed by climate change can only be addressed through multilateral means, as climate change is a global issue in the most immediate sense of the word. Lacking in accountability and enforcement mechanisms, the Paris Agreement requires additional support to achieve its full effect. In light of the trend toward regionalism and protectionism, as well as the backlash against globalization as income inequality continues to grow, there is a need to find common multilateral ground. (6) Regional trade agreements between large economies threaten to marginalize developing countries by keeping them at the periphery of innovation either by ignoring capacity-building issues faced by these smaller economies or by keeping membership to such agreements closed.

At a time when multilateralism is under threat, the future of international institutions like the World Trade Organization (WTO) is in question. Critics point to the failures of the Doha Round and the rise in megaregional agreements as indicative of the WTO's imminent demise. (7) Obstruction on the part of the United States to the reappointment of WTO Appellate Body (Appellate Body) members is jeopardizing the WTO's ability to function as a dispute-settlement body. …

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