New Zealand is leading efforts to deliver a Joint Ministerial Statement on Fossil Fuel Subsidy Reform (FFSR) at the WTO Twelfth Ministerial Conference (MC12) in November.
Fossil fuel subsidies use public money to make oil, gas, coal and other fossil fuels cheaper to buy – and cheaper to burn, making it harder for renewable energy alternatives to compete.
This initiative recognises that trade has an essential role in supporting global efforts to address environmental and climate change-related challenges. The WTO already has a range of rules in place to address subsidies, and so is a natural home to take forward the FFSR conversation. Reform of fossil fuel subsidies will also contribute to a green and climate-resilient COVID-19 recovery by ensuring that we avoid locking-in emissions intensive economic response measures.
Action on fossil fuel subsidies is a practical example of aligning trade rules and practices with the commitments WTO Members have made in accordance with the Paris Agreement and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDG 12 target (c)). It also complements the recent APEC Trade Ministers’ direction to officials to explore options for a potential standstill on new fossil fuel subsidies(external link), and work is under way through the Agreement on Climate Change, Trade and Sustainability negotiations.
The proposed Statement recognises that inefficient fossil fuel subsidies encourage wasteful consumption and have trade-distorting impacts, and that effectively addressing such subsidies will deliver trade, economic, social, and environmental benefits.
The Statement proposes a gradual approach for achieving ambitious and effective disciplines on inefficient fossil fuel subsidies through capacity-building, and exchange of information and experience. It also acknowledges the importance of considering the needs of vulnerable groups to ensure the transition from government fossil fuel support is equitable and ‘just’.
New Zealand will continue to work alongside the Friends of FFSR(external link) and other likeminded partners to advance this issue at the WTO.
New Zealand invites WTO Members to support this Statement ahead of MC12.