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The Agreement on Climate Change, Trade and Sustainability (ACCTS) negotiations: Report on the Fourth Round of Negotiations, 2- 26 March 2021.
The participating countries – New Zealand, Costa Rica, Fiji, Iceland, Norway and Switzerland – conducted their meetings for the fourth round of negotiations from 2 – 26 March via videoconference.
The four working groups; environmental goods, environmental services, fossil fuel subsidies and voluntary eco-labelling, met over eleven two-hour sessions. The working groups made steady and substantive progress. New Zealand’s objective remains to conclude an ambitious agreement that demonstrates how trade policy can contribute to environmental outcomes and help address climate change.
Key Working Group Progress in Brief
In the Fossil Fuel Subsidies Working Group, negotiators continued work to develop disciplines to eliminate harmful fossil fuel subsidies. Negotiators considered the advantages and disadvantages of different approaches to the scope and definitions of fossil fuel subsidies and mechanisms to address these. The ACCTS will be the first trade agreement to have legally-binding rules on disciplining harmful fossil fuel subsidies.
The Environmental Goods Working Group focused on chapter text options, and development of the environmental goods short- and long-lists of nominations. The group continues to steadily build on the consensus list of environmental goods. Nominations are informed by existing work on environmental goods, including the list of 54 environmental goods agreed by APEC and work done under the (stalled) WTO Environmental Goods Agreement negotiations.
The Environmental Services Working Group made solid progress in Round Four. Negotiators agreed to develop a clear methodology and criteria to underpin an environmental services list and agreed a future list should provide legal certainty and predictability. Negotiators will discuss text options at the next round.
The Working Group for voluntary eco-labelling programmes discussed textual options for the aim of the chapter, scope and definitions, the principles-based guidelines and supporting institutional mechanisms. The group will continue discussions on these elements at the next round.
What happens next?
Round Five of the ACCTS is scheduled to take place from 5 May to 10 June. At this stage, Round Five is envisaged to comprise of fourteen sessions, including the inaugural meetings of the Legal and Institutional Working Group. This schedule reflects the wide range of time zones amongst the current participants as well as the scale and complexity of the work required under each of the pillars.
Where can I find out more?
Find out more about our overall objectives for this agreement, including information on the four key pillars of the agreement being negotiated at the Agreement on Climate Change, Trade and Sustainability (ACCTS) negotiations page of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade website.