There is a growing recognition that all economic policy, including trade policy, will need to play a role in the transition to net zero. However, the precise role of UK trade in helping to achieve net zero targets remains less well defined in comparison with other areas.
The UK is still developing its early trade strategy, having only gained an independent trade policy after leaving the EU. During the same formative time, the UK has also positioned itself as a climate leader, as an early adopter of a legally binding net zero target and the host of COP26.
However, this coincidence in timing has not resulted in policy coherence between the two agendas. Instead, the UK has been criticised for undermining its climate leadership through its approach to trade, for instance through its recent trade deal with Australia.
This briefing focuses on the intersection between trade and climate policy in the UK, with the aim of better defining a positive green trade agenda. Its recommendations are grouped into three areas, using trade policy: as a lever for climate action; to enhance cooperation; and to protect the right to regulate.