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COP26 and international trade



1. 2021 is an important year for the UK’s international policies on climate change and trade. In November, the UK will host the 26th annual summit of the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26). This aims to accelerate progress towards meeting the 2015 Paris Agreement: in particular, limiting global temperature rise to 2 degrees Celsius (preferably 1.5 degrees Celsius) relative to pre-industrial levels. Additionally, the UK holds the G7 Presidency, for which the tackling of climate change and biodiversity loss is a key priority. The UK has also announced its ambition to promote free and fair trade around the world. 

2. The Government has identified opportunities to use international trade and investment to further environmental goals. For instance, the Government is working at the World Trade Organization to promote ‘green trade’, with a view to liberalising environmental goods and services, mitigating carbon emissions, setting standards and supporting a circular economy. At the same time, there is evidence that the future impacts of climate change may affect international trade and investment, for instance, disrupting infrastructure/transport routes and bringing about new patterns of trade and production.5    

3. Against this backdrop, the International Trade Committee (ITC) has decided to consider how international trade and investment features within the COP26 agenda, and how the Government’s trade and investment priorities align with those of COP26.