Climate Change

WTO supports climate loss and damage funding

September 15, 2023 4:14 pm

Director General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala

Talks of generating new revenue streams targeted at addressing loss and damage caused by climate disasters have been floating around discussion rooms during the World Trade Organization’s Public Forum in Geneva.

The WTO has pledged its support for addressing this issue, and certain areas have also been identified.

Director General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala says the institution has placed proposals to repurpose subsidies to help climate-vulnerable countries like Fiji deal with climate change.

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“We’ve even suggested that some of the subsidies that are being given now that are damaging to agriculture, the environment, and trade, why can’t we repurpose them? Get the subsidies away where they are not helpful and use them for climate finance?”

Okonjo-Iweala states that there is a need to re-look at losses and damage caused by the climate crisis.

“We strongly support a closer look at this loss and damage, and if there are global carbon pricing and taxing schemes that can help generate revenue that could go into a loss and damage fund, we will be one of the organizations willing to look at that and support that.”

Meanwhile, Professor Avinash Persaud, the Special Envoy of the Prime Minister of Barbados, told FBC News that the world has not mitigated climate change sufficiently, which is why coping with loss and damage today requires grant funding or otherwise being burdened by oceans of debt in order to deal with these calamities if developing countries borrow for rebuilding purposes.

Professor Persaud says this is why there is a need to establish new revenue streams to fund community rehabilitation following disasters.

“And that probably means like a new shipping tax that’s been supported by Fiji and the Marshall Islands; that means a methane leakage tax that’s been supported by the United States of America; and maybe this new carbon cross-border adjustment mechanism that any revenue that comes from that the EU is pushing, maybe that should go to a climate loss and damage fund for developing countries.”

Although the WTO is not a financial institution, it is willing to utilize its multilateral rules-based global trading system to support climate action.

The WTO understands that climate change can negatively impact trade by disrupting distribution and supply chains and raising trade costs.