Climate Change and International Trade Arrangements: A Look at the TPP and its Implications for Australia

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CLIMATE CHANGE AND INTERNATIONAL TRADE ARRANGEMENTS: A LOOK AT THE TPP AND ITS IMPLICATIONS FOR AUSTRALIA Dr Jadranka Petrovic [Abstract] Climate change is considered to be the most serious of all the threats that the Earth is currently facing. One of the main reasons that climate change figures strongly is due to its intersection with other concerns, including the adverse effects of international trade on the environment. Although beneficial economically, trade can exacerbate pollution and other forms of environmental degradation, particularly carbon dioxide emissions. An unprecedented expansion of international trade in the last half century has significantly impacted upon the environment. It has been predicted that trade will be one of the major factors driving economic growth in the 21st century. In parallel, it is expected that carbon dioxide emissions will continue to accelerate with growth indefinitely and that the very fact of increased trade, in and of itself, will lead directly to more global greenhouse gas emissions, inter alia, from increased transport of goods. As free trade agreements (FTAs) are being increasingly negotiated throughout the world, including Australia (which presently has ten FTAs in force and a number of FTAs under negotiations), the questions of whether and how these agreements can be used to support a successful transition to a low emission and resilient economy is becoming more and more significant. This paper focuses on the Transpacific Partnership (TPP) — a comprehensive mega regional trade agreement, envisaged to be ‘the 21st century agreement’ in terms of economic benefits. The TPP was initially signed by 12 States (Brunei, Chile, New Zealand, Singapore, Australia, Peru, Vietnam, the United States, Malaysia, Canada, Mexico and Japan), but due to the United States’ withdrawal in January 2017, presently it is often referred to as ‘TPP-11’. This agreement is not in force yet. The paper critically evaluates what the TPP entails in terms of climate change and what are its implications for Australia. It argues that trade and environmental sustainability are indivisible and that the TPP should have considered the pressing issue of climate change in a more meaningful way. Given the interrelatedness between climate change and trade, on the one hand, and the likely influence of the TPP on future trade deals, on the other, observations in this paper of lessons-learned are timely and instructive. Short Biography Dr Jadranka Petrovic (LLB, PGCIL, PGDIL, LLM, SJD (Melb), GCAP (Monash)) teaches and researches in various areas of International Law at Monash University. She is the author of The Old Bridge of Mostar and Increasing Respect for Cultural Property in Armed Conflict (Brill, Martinus Nijhoff Publishers, 2013). Her other recent publications include edited collection of essays on accountability for violations of international humanitarian law (published by Routledge in 2016), and book chapters, journal articles and conference papers on such varied topics as R2P, head of state immunity, use of cultural property for military purposes, statehood and self-determination, cultural genocide, international trade in arms, intersection between free trade agreements and human rights, and a range of other international law topics. More information on some of her research is available at, <>. Contact details: E:; Tel: +61 447 517 759
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2018

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