Monday, March 13, 2017

Young: Energy Transitions and Trade Law: Lessons from the Reform of Fisheries Subsidies

Margaret A. Young (Univ. of Melbourne - Law) has posted Energy Transitions and Trade Law: Lessons from the Reform of Fisheries Subsidies (International Environmental Agreements: Politics, Law and Economics, forthcoming). Here's the abstract:
Fossil fuel subsidies, like subsidies to the fishing sector, lead to trade-distorting and ecologically harmful practices. The US$35 billion in subsidies provided by countries every year to the fishing sector leads to more and more boats being built, even as 90% of fish stocks are either fully exploited or overfished. An estimated US$650 billion in subsidies provided annually to the fossil fuel sector supports increased production and consumption, even as evidence emerges that oil, gas and coal reserves must remain unexploited to limit global warming increases to 2° Celsius. Of course, each country has its own development priorities, livelihood concerns and need for food and energy security. Agreeing upon subsidy reform is a complex undertaking requiring social, political and historical considerations, and involving international legal regimes that govern climate change, energy, fisheries and trade. This article reviews proposals for reform within the World Trade Organization and regional trade agreements, including the new disciplines on fisheries subsidies in the recently concluded text of the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Consensus is emerging on the need to prohibit subsidies that contribute to overfishing or that are linked to illegal, unreported or unregulated fishing. The article shows how these legal developments might inform attempts to limit fossil fuel production and consumption subsidies. It highlights the need for learning and open deliberation about subsidy reform by affected stakeholders, including representatives from international organisations and civil society. It also points to new arrangements that link compliance with subsidy rules to standards and benchmarks from fisheries regimes, and demonstrates how such inter-regime connections are legitimate in the context of the fragmentation of international law. While reform to fisheries subsidies is still preliminary and fraught, there are useful lessons for the equally important project of energy transitions.