Increasing international cooperation on green trade will be essential for achieving climate goals. The new Coalition of Trade Ministers on Climate is therefore a crucial initiative, which has already gained the support of members from across the world. Now the Coalition needs to turn its founding commitments into action to have impact. It can achieve this by adopting political priorities and influencing the green trade agenda in other international institutions and venues.
The Coalition of Trade Ministers on Climate is an important development. The profile of green trade issues is increasing internationally – bringing both risks and opportunities. There is clear need for political-level agenda-setting on green trade globally.
The Coalition has already started to take shape. It has rightly prioritised inclusivity in its membership, rather than starting narrower and proposing tighter criteria. So far, it brings together 57 ministers from countries in every global region and of all levels of development.
This starts to define the Coalition’s theory of change. As a larger, inclusive forum, its purpose should be to give political direction to the global green trade agenda and influence through agenda-setting in other international venues and initiatives.
- The Coalition should meet regularly at both WTO Ministerial Conferences and UN climate summits.
- The Coalition should establish a secretariat with a strategic mandate to enhance its agenda-setting influence in these venues.
- As a political-level forum, the Coalition should adopt political priorities. Top political priorities for global green trade currently include:
- Clean technologies – enabling the faster uptake and diffusion of clean technologies around the world through trade cooperation.
- Critical raw materials – strengthening supply chains while supporting sustainable development in producer countries.
- Green subsidies – promoting dialogue on effective and permissible green subsidies with a view to reforming global rules where needed.
- Development – including by supporting the trade dimension of the Bridgetown Agenda for reforming the global financial architecture.
- Climate action – using trade cooperation as a means of increasing climate action with a focus on priority sectors.
Mapped against these areas of political interest, the main policy levers at trade ministers’ disposal include:
- Coordinated action – coordinating new policies and commitments to maximise the impact of interventions.
- Finance and investment – mobilising more trade-related finance to support climate and sustainable development objectives.
- Technology transfer – facilitating the exchange of technical information and skills to accelerate green industrial development globally.
- Reforming trade rules – assessing where reforming trade and investment rules may be required to advance green trade objectives.
Some of these areas could progress faster than others. For example, progress on trade-related finance – including the net zero alignment of Export Credit Agencies, implementing the Glasgow Statement on public finance, coordinated pledging of new trade finance for clean technologies, or increased finance for climate adaptation and resilience through Aid for Trade – may come more quickly than reforming trade rules.
However, progress in less contentious areas can build trust towards delivering more systemic change. The Coalition should not lose sight of its transformative potential and the goal of aligning all trade flows with the goals of the Paris Agreement.