Trade Can Help Us Address Climate Change. Here’s How Trade Ministers are Working Together to Make that Possible



Valdis Dombrovskis, Moses Kuria, Damien O'Connor, Julio José Prado | World Economic Forum

The climate crisis is an unprecedented challenge, wreaking devastation across the globe. The latest science tells us that a staggering 1.6 billion people live in climate vulnerable hotspots, meaning that their homes, livelihoods and lives are already at risk. That number could double by 2050.

Time is of the essence. This is why at the November 2022 COP27 climate conference, governments emphasised the urgent need for immediate, deep and sustained reductions of global greenhouse gas emissions by all parties, across all sectors.

The climate crisis is a double-edged sword, with action needed both at global and local level. International cooperation is therefore vital, because no country can solve this crisis alone. Governments, businesses, international organizations, academia and citizens all need to work together. That is why we, as trade leaders from Ecuador, the European Union, Kenya and New Zealand, are launching with over 50 other countries a Coalition of Trade Ministers on Climate at the World Economic Forum’s Annual Meeting 2023 in Davos, Switzerland.

The Coalition aims to drive inclusive cooperation among trade ministers in the global response to climate change, including by engaging nationally and internationally with fellow ministers working on climate, environment, finance and development, among others. Connecting the dots is vital to find coherent global solutions.

Together, we aim to provide high-level leadership and guidance to boost international cooperation on climate, trade and sustainable development. We represent different regions, stages of development, trade circumstances and varying exposure to climate vulnerabilities. This diversity, coupled with a commitment to transparency and inclusivity, reflects our commitment to build trust and work together on climate change.

Tackling the climate crisis is an enormous endeavour, and trade can and should play a role in this massive global effort. The Coalition will promote trade and investment that fosters the diffusion, development, accessibility and uptake of goods, services and technologies that support climate change mitigation and adaptation in both developed and developing countries.

Such technologies are critical for many reasons, think of the clean energy transition – solar and wind energy or green hydrogen that can be used in rural communities; or the need for technologies to face climate adaptation related challenges – water disaster management, ecosystem monitoring and restoration, early warning and information systems, amongst others.

As a group, we will identify ways for international cooperation and collective action on trade and trade policy to positively contribute to the global response on climate change, including at the World Trade Organization and in relevant multilateral, plurilateral, regional and sectoral initiatives. Importantly, the Coalition will also identify trade-related strategies supportive of the most vulnerable developing and least developed countries.

To achieve the scale and speed of climate action required, we need to harness innovative technologies, investment and talent from all over the world. We must also ensure that global trade flows, rules and trade policies help to drive down greenhouse gas emissions, enable a just transition and support climate-resilient sustainable development.

Let us be clear: this is no easy task. To achieve the Paris Agreement on Climate Change goals, countries will need to pursue policies that transform the way we produce, consume and invest – this will entail a range of implications for trade.

Transparency, inclusive dialogue and cooperation on the trade dimensions of climate policies will be crucial to avoid trade tensions, while helping to build understanding of domestic realities and identify paths forward.

In Davos, we are meeting with business, non-governmental organizations, experts and international organizations heading climate action initiatives, to explore how our work can accelerate these activities.

This Coalition is just the beginning. We will build alliances and partnerships with climate and finance ministers, as well as other relevant stakeholders, to become a truly global and inclusive platform for concrete actions and ideas.

The world is at a tipping point. We have no time to lose if we want to build economic systems that are climate neutral, resilient and able to deliver sustainable development.

With this Coalition of Trade Ministers on Climate, we are announcing our shared intention to work together on these challenges in the years ahead.

Valdis Dombrovskis is the Executive Vice-President for an Economy that Works for People; Commissioner for Trade, European Commission.

Moses Kuria is the Cabinet Secretary for Trade, Investments and Industry, Ministry of Trade, Investments and Industry of Kenya.

Damien O’Connor is the Minister of Trade and Export Growth, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade of New Zealand.

Julio José Prado is the Minister of Production, Foreign Trade, Investment and Fisheries, Ministry of Production, Foreign Trade, Investments and Fisheries of Ecuador.

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