DDG Wolff: “Trade Policies Have a Huge Potential to Support Climate Action”



Deputy Director-General Alan WM. Wolff | World Trade Organization

In remarks delivered to a Business Europe webinar on trade and climate change on 17 September, Deputy Director-General Alan Wolff said trade policies are powerful tools to scale-up investment in clean and resilient infrastructure and accelerate climate-friendly innovation. The WTO can play a role by removing barriers to trade in green goods and services, deepening dialogue on best practices and solutions and supporting the ability of poorer members to benefit from the rapidly expanding green economy. The text of DDG Wolff’s remarks is below.


Good afternoon. I am pleased to join you today.

Climate change is a global crisis.

Focusing on climate change can be particularly challenging at a time when another global crisis – COVID-19 – sweeps the world, threatening lives and livelihoods at an alarming pace.

And yet, there is reason to believe that climate change would cause even greater suffering and harm than the current pandemic.

As Bill Gates put it: “If you want to understand the kind of damage that climate change will inflict, look at COVID-19 and spread the pain out over a much longer period of time.”

So there is real urgency here.

I welcome the interest of Europe’s business community in discussing how trade must be made part of the solution to address climate change.


Trade policies have a huge potential to support climate action. They are powerful tools to:

  • Increase resource efficiency;
  • Scale-up investment in clean and resilient infrastructure;
  • And accelerate climate-friendly innovation.

Trade policies are important ingredients to help businesses unlock the US$ 26 trillion in market opportunities that would result from bold climate action by 2030.

But trade policies can only play a full role in the fight against climate change if we step up efforts to make sure that:

  • Trade and climate change policies are adopted that reinforce each other, rather than work at cross purposes.
  • Trade and environment officials work  collaboratively, not in silos.
  • And all adopt solutions that are good for trade and good for the climate.

The WTO has several opportunities to help make this happen. I would like to highlight three of these today.

Ambassador Alan Wolff began his four-year term as Deputy Director-General on 1 October 2017.

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