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The Overlap between the UN Climate Regime and the World Trade Organization: Lessons for Climate Governance Beyond 2012

  • Fariborz Zelli
  • Harro van Asselt
Publishing year: 2010
Language: English
Pages: 79-96
Publication/Series: Global Climate Governance Beyond 2012. Architecture, Agency and Adaptation
Document type: Book chapter
Publisher: Cambridge University Press

Abstract english

In this chapter, we focus on one element of the fragmentation of global climate governance, namely the overlap between the UN climate regime and the World Trade Organization (WTO). With a view to the appraisal question for the ‘architecture’ theme of this volume, we hold that this overlap not only implies benefits, but may also entail significant drawbacks for the development and implementation of the UN climate regime. This raises the question how this overlap can be addressed beyond 2012. Our main argument is that, when developing future strategies for managing this interlinkage, policy-makers should draw lessons from the past, that is, from the potential negative effects of this overlap, and from shortcomings of previous management approaches.
In Section 6.2, we introduce our methodology. Section 6.3 introduces major issues on which the two regimes overlap and respective management approaches, which have hardly yielded significant results. In Section 6.4, we discuss policy options that may be suitable to address these unresolved issues and debates in the future. We argue that appropriate strategies need to take into account core reasons for the observed inter- linkages and for previous management failures: the constellation of strategic interests and the partial lack of consensual knowledge on climate–trade overlaps. We therefore suggest bringing in further expertise on climate–trade interlinkages – for example through a separate chapter in the next assessment report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) – as well as strategic issue-linking, for example regarding negotiations on biofuels and the transfer of climate-friendly technologies.


  • Political Science
  • climate governance
  • WTO law
  • WTO
  • complexity
  • institutional analysis
  • Trade and environment
  • world trade law
  • Climate change
  • Kyoto protocol


  • Miljöpolitik-lup-obsolete
  • ISBN: 978-0-521-19011-4
Fariborz Zelli
E-mail: fariborz [dot] zelli [at] svet [dot] lu [dot] se

Senior lecturer

Department of Political Science

+46 46 222 47 64



Associate professor

Department of Political Science



Fariborz is director of the NAVIGOV project. He received the outstanding Ph.D. thesis award of the University of Tübingen and the award for outstanding teaching performance of the German state of Baden-Württemberg.

Ongoing research projects

Department of Political Science
Lund University
Visiting address: Paradisgatan 5H (House: Eden)
Postal address: Box 52, SE-221 00 LUND
Telephone: +46 46-222 89 52

Faculty of Social Sciences