Diplomats from the EU, US, China and 11 other countries have begun negotiations on a trade deal that would cut tariffs on almost $1 trillion (£580bn) of green goods, such as solar panels, wind turbines and products for air pollution control.
The talks, which are taking place in Geneva, aim to reduce barriers to the global trade of environmental goods between members of the World Trade Organisation (WTO). The countries involved currently account for around 86% of trade in green goods.
Governments attending the talks hope to reduce tariffs on a range of goods to 5% or less by the end of next year. In 2012, the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) group created a list of 54 goods on which they would reduce tariffs and this list will be used as a starting point for the negotiations.
If a deal is successfully reached it could go some way to aiding countries meet their carbon reduction and other climate change related targets. It also hoped that the deal could eventually be extended to include environmental services.
Despite the potential of such a deal, challenges still remain. Issues around what should be classed as an environmental good and how to deal with country’s individual protections will still need to be tackled. The Financial Times also notes that developing countries, such as India and China, have previously taken a dim view on US-led negotiations.
Speaking to the publication, Ricardo Melendez-Ortiz, chief executive of the International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development, said, “The politics of the negotiations are very challenging.”
An announcement about the potential deal was made at the beginning of the year on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.
At the time, the participants said, “We are convinced that one of the most concrete, immediate contributions that the WTO and its members can make to protect out planet is to seek agreement to eliminate tariffs for goods that we all need to protect our environment and address climate change.”
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