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Briefing: ‘Trade for All’ – Balancing environmental protection and trade promotion

EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström released her five-year ‘Trade for All’ strategy in October 2015, which acknowledges growing public concern over the EU’s trade policies. We identify five areas that need revision in order to more equitably distribute the benefits and costs of the EU’s trade policy: global value chains; energy imports; sustainable development; investment protection; transparency.

Paris and aviation

Aviation is responsible for an estimated 5% of global warming and its emissions are growing at 4-5% each year. Unless action is taken, the sector risks undermining the Paris Agreement's objective of limiting a temperature increase to 1.5 degrees. There are a number of measures that could be introduced at international and EU level which would reduce the climate impact of the sector, and these need to be pursued urgently by policy makers. 

CO2 standard for aircraft - briefing

The International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) is set to agree in 2016 on the first ever CO2 efficiency standard for new aircraft. With aviation responsible for an estimated 5% of global warming, and the sector’s emissions growing at 4-5% each year, an effective standard which delivers emission reductions beyond business-as-usual is essential if the objectives of the Paris Agreement are to be achieved. Environmental NGOs fear, however, that the outcome could be a weak standard which has little or no environmental impact.

The litmus test: An on-time departure for ICAO’s global market-based measure

The International Civil Aviation Organisation is due to agree, at its triennial General Assembly in October 2016, a global market based (GMBM) mechanism for international aviation emissions. The International Coalition for Sustainable Aviation, a coalition of environmental NGOs which includes T&E, have drafted a Litmus Draft for what an environmentally effective GMBM would contain.

Europe’s lost decade of truck fuel economy

Emissions from heavy-duty vehicles (HDV), which include trucks and buses, increased by 36% between 1990 and 2010 and are estimated to continue growing in the foreseeable future. HDV emissions currently represent around 30% of all road transport CO2 emissions and unless additional measures are taken by 2030 HDV emissions will increase to over 40% of road transport CO2. By 2030 HDV would emit around 15% of emissions not covered by the EU ETS (non-ETS/ESD) – which EU member states will have to reduce by 30% by 2030. The main reason for the increase of HDV carbon emissions is the stagnation of truck fuel efficiency coupled with increasing demand for road freight.

COP21: Shipping and aviation emissions are the elephants in the room

Aviation emissions are responsible for 5% of global warming and shipping makes up almost 3% of global CO2. These sectors have a CO2 impact equal to the UK and Germany and are continuing to grow rapidly – by up to 270% in 2050, by which time they could account for almost 40% of all emissions. Such emission growth will undermine reductions efforts by all countries and other sectors, effectively making the 1.5/2°C objective impossible to achieve.

Trade and energy – looking beyond hydrocarbons

The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) is a proposed free-trade agreement (FTA) between the European Union (EU) and the United States (US) that, if completed, would be the largest bilateral FTA in the world, and transform transatlantic commerce. Trade volumes between the EU and US are very high, energy remains an important exception, largely due to the US ban or limit on crude oil and liquefied natural gas (LNG) exports. Unsurprisingly the focus of EU negotiators is to end these limitations, but if the hope of cheap energy is one side of the coin, there is another: cheaper fossil energy means higher carbon emissions from increased consumption while crowding out renewable sources, all of which runs counter to the EU’s ‘40/27/27’ climate and energy targets for 2030.

Sustainable development and environment in TTIP

Nearly three decades after they were first proposed, the pillars of sustainable development are still absent from the EU’s trade policy. Sustainable development is included in the EU’s trade strategies, negotiations and agreements — but in name only. The current approach still falls short of real commitment and ambition. In this study, T&E and ClientEarth have identified nine remedies ranging from meaningful enforcement and dispute-settlement to the inclusion of sustainable development provisions in every aspect of agreements. The EU has an ambitious list of open negotiations — the opportunity is ripe for an updated approach that truly integrates sustainable development and trade.

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