Trade, Climate and Energy: A New Study on Climate Action through Free Trade Agreements

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Efforts to tackle climate change are taking place on multiple fronts. This includes trade, an in-creasingly important defining feature of the global economy. In recent years, free trade agree-ments (FTAs) have become the primary mechanism of trade policy and diplomacy. This study examines the development of climate action measures in FTAs and discusses what difference they can make to tackling climate change. Its primary source research is based on an in-depth exam-ination of FTAs in force up to 2020. This paper is structured around a number of research ques-tions forming around three main inter-related areas of enquiry. Firstly, to what extent are these provisions in FTAs essentially derivative of energy’s connections with climate change, and thus part of a wider trade–climate–energy nexus? Secondly, what kinds of climate action are FTAs specifically promoting, and how effective a potential positive impact may we expect these to have? Thirdly, are certain climate action norms being promoted by trade partners in FTAs and if so, then who are the norm leaders, what is motivating them, and to what extent are they ex-tending their influence over other trade partners? In addressing these questions, this study offers new insights and analysis regarding a potentially important emerging trend in the trade–climate–energy nexus. Its international political economy approach and latest empirical research also provide a further distinctive contribution to knowledge in this inter-disciplinary area, developing new comprehensions of the relationship between trade, climate action and energy.
Original languageEnglish
Article number4363
Pages (from-to)4363
Number of pages30
Issue number14
Publication statusPublished - 20 Jul 2021


  • Trade
  • Climate action
  • Clean energy
  • Free trade agreements
  • Energy trade policy


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