MPs to investigate how trade policy can benefit environment

MPs have today launched an inquiry into how the UK’s trade and investment policy can benefit the environment and mitigate negative impacts across the world.


The International Trade Committee (ITC) will examine how effective current policies are in depth, and what lessons can be learnt before the UK starts negotiating post-Brexit free trade deals.

Some argue that trade can lead to negative environmental outcomes due to the requirements of producing and transporting goods, which can be energy and resource intensive.

“Counter to this is the argument that increased trade can boost a country’s access to new technologies, and therefore its ability to manage environmental challenges,” committee chair, Angus MacNeil, said.

“How the government might be able to use trade policy as a tool in the battle against climate change has not been fully explored by policy-makers.”

The World Trade Organization also argues that rising incomes brought about by increased trade can help poorer nations raise their environmental standards and reduce emissions.

It says that more open trade, together with actions to combat climate change, can catalyse global innovation and lead to new products and processes that stimulate new clean tech businesses.

The ITC will study how the imposition or reduction of tariffs can be used to pursue environmental aims, along with the link between trade liberalisation and sustainability.

It will also investigate how the UK can address environmental issues at the multilateral and plurilateral level in trade talks, and how to ensure coherence between trade and environmental policy across government.

“Combating climate change has never been a more imperative policy goal in the national psyche, demonstrated by the Extinction Rebellion protests and the declaration of a ‘climate emergency’ by the House of Commons in May,” MacNeil said.

“My committee’s inquiry will look at this issue with a view to coming up with practical, implementable policy suggestions to ensure the UK takes advantage of the potential for trade policy to support positive environmental outcomes.”

The deadline for written submissions to the inquiry is Tuesday 1 October 2019.


Image credit: ©iStock


Chris Seekings is a reporter for TRANSFORM

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