New website launched to promote greener international trade agreements

GreenNewTrade.org is a new website aimed at climate justice activists and the general public, describing past and current trade challenges to “Green New Deal–type policies”, and calling for changes to trade rules. For Canadians, the most famous such international trade dispute occurred when Japan and the EU challenged the domestic content provisions in Ontario’s Green Energy Act – and in 2013,  the World Trade Organization ruled against Ontario. There have also been numerous challenges under the investor–state dispute settlement (ISDS) rules of NAFTA and the successor United States Canada Mexico Trade Agreement (USMCA) – the website gives the example of US coal mining company Westmoreland, which in 2018 challenged Alberta’s planned phaseout of coal-fired power plants.   

For an introduction to the issues, see Beyond NAFTA 2.0: A Trade Agenda for People and Planet,  a report released in 2019 by some of the same groups behind this new website: the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives,  the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy,  Institute for Policy Studies,  and the Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung–New York.   A blog post at the Business and Human Rights Resources website describes GreenNewTrade.org .

Local Content Requirements Promoting Green Growth in China and Around the World

A paper released on June 3rd by the International Centre on Trade and Sustainable Development “attempts to refocus the LCR debate around the ultimate question of whether this measure can play a role in achieving green industrial growth in general, and RE deployment and innovation in particular. ” The authors set out the arguments for and against the use of LCR’s, examine their use by China in the wind energy industry, and describe (in less detail) examples in Ontario, Quebec, Spain, Italy, France, Greece, Croatia, the US, India, Brazil, South Africa and Turkey. A concluding section deals with the WTO role. Ultimately, the authors call for more rigorous research into the effect of local content requirement policies on the creation of jobs in the renewable energy industry.

LINK

Local Content Requirements and the Renewable Energy Industry – A Good Match? By Jan-Christoph Kuntze and Tom Moerenhout is available at: http://ictsd.org/i/publications/165193/?view=details

Ontario Green Energy Act Loses Final Appeal at WTO

The World Trade Organization has upheld its original decision and ruled that the domestic content regulations of Ontario’s Green Energy Act violate international trade law.  Existing contracts signed under the Act will continue, but the WTO decision calls for the Green Energy Act to be amended to remove the requirement for local production in future renewable energy contracts.   “Ontario loses final WTO appeal on Green Energy Act” by Shawn McCarthy, Globe and Mail (May 6) is at http://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/industry-news/energy-and-resources/ontario-loses-final-wto-appeal-on-green-energy-act/article11731010/  .

A summary of the WTO proceedings, including a link to the review decision (file #WT/DS412), in English and French is available from the WTO at http://www.wto.org/english/tratop_e/dispu_e/cases_e/ds412_e.htm  . The Council of Canadians reaction is at “Ontario urged to defy unreasonable WTO ruling against Green Energy Act” at http://www.canadians.org/media/trade/2013/06-May-13-2.html , and the United Steelworkers union also urges Ontario to continue to fight, stating that “This is just the latest example of trade agreements being used to override our sovereignty and our freedom to implement environmental and economic development initiatives.” (see press release at http://www.newswire.ca/en/story/1159683/wto-ruling-must-not-end-fight-for-green-jobs-steelworkers ).

The Ontario Ministry of Energy has not yet made a formal response to the decision; however, in a related announcement on May 6th, it announced a 6-month review of the regional energy planning process to be more inclusive of municipal and local input.  (See http://news.ontario.ca/mei/en/2013/05/new-ontario-government-strengthens-energy-planning.html ).