We, the Ministers for trade from Costa Rica, Fiji, Iceland, New Zealand, Norway and Switzerland, welcome the meeting of Agreement on Climate Change, Trade and Sustainability (ACCTS) partners on 6 October 2021, in Paris to discuss progress on negotiations for the ACCTS. Our meeting was chaired by Hon Damien O’Connor, New Zealand’s Minister for Trade and Export Growth.
We recall the Joint Leaders’ Statement on the launch of the ACCTS initiative issued on 25 September 2019, in New York, USA, supported by a Joint Climate Change Ministers’ Statement, issued on 10 December 2019 in Madrid, Spain, and a further Joint Trade Ministers’ Statement on 24 January 2020 in Davos, Switzerland.
We, as the ACCTS Trade Ministers, recognise the need for urgent action to reach the Paris Agreement’s long-term temperature goal and remain steadfast in our desire to harness trade policy to contribute to our collective efforts to address climate change. Our work to reduce emissions need to be based on the best available science and we welcome the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report, which clearly states that the world needs to halve emissions by 2030 compared to the 1990 levels and to reach net zero emissions by 2050 to keep the global temperature below 1.5 °C degrees. We remain united in our support for the negotiations, and our ongoing efforts to harness trade policy to advance climate change, trade, environmental and sustainable development agendas. In doing so, we continue to recognise the particular vulnerability of Small Island Developing States to the impacts of climate change.
We welcome progress in developing the list of environmental goods for tariff elimination, and look forward to further expansion in the months ahead. We acknowledge the important ongoing work of our trade, customs, and environmental authorities to ensure that the list is ambitious, implementable and appropriately targeted to deal with any issues of dual-use.
Positive progress is also being made in the environmental services working group to expand the understanding of environmental and environmentally-related services in order to reflect a more contemporary understanding of this dynamic sector. We look forward to making new commitments that facilitate access and create certainty for service suppliers to support environmental outcomes and sustainable development.
We are encouraged by the advanced work that is under way to facilitate the development of principles-based guidelines for voluntary eco-labelling programmes, alongside institutional mechanisms to support their implementation. We expect these guidelines will prove a useful tool that will help ensure that eco-labels are able to best achieve their environmental purposes, while avoiding the inadvertent creation of barriers to trade.
Finally, we are making positive steps towards advancing disciplines to eliminate harmful fossil fuel subsidies. We acknowledge that this is complex work, with little available precedent. We urge negotiators to draw on analytical work of international organisations such as the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), International Energy Agency (IEA) among others, and on lessons from other processes where possible, including at the World Trade Organization (WTO), Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) and elsewhere in order to accelerate their important work.
As we look forward to the 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) and the Twelfth WTO Ministerial Conference (MC12) in November, we welcome the momentum we see in trade and environment discussions. We are encouraged by the growing recognition of the ability for trade policy actions to not only support the economic recovery, lift incomes and incentivise investment, but that this can be done in a way that supports the environment and sustainable development, and encourages green growth.
We continue to aim for the ACCTS to be a WTO-consistent pathfinder agreement that inspires action by other WTO Members, and will continue to provide regular updates on our progress at relevant WTO meetings. We aim at concluding the ACCTS negotiations as swiftly as possible, and look forward to other WTO Members joining our initiative.