The Energy 202: Advocates want Biden to use trade deals to combat climate change



Alexandra Ellerbeck | The Washington Post

Climate change has not been a major feature in U.S. trade agreements. That may change under President-elect Joe Biden. 

Biden on the campaign trail called for conditioning future trade agreements on partners’ ability to meet their climate targets under the Paris climate agreement, which he plans to rejoin when he enters office Wednesday.

Environmental advocates, trade experts and lawyers told me this shift will help build a global consensus to avert the worst effects of climate change, even though it may rattle certain allies. It will allow Biden to beef up environmental standards at home without the risk of American businesses losing out to companies that operate in countries with laxer environmental standards, they say. 

“The Biden administration wants to have a trading system where people are not advantaged by declining to follow through on commitments they’ve made to any number of issues, but notably on climate change in the 2015 Paris agreement,” said Daniel Esty, a professor at Yale Law School with expertise in environment and trade policy. 

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