A System of Perpetuation: Free Trade and Climate Change

Free trade is the exchange of products and services between nations without the impositions of tariffs or quotas on foreign products, as well as subsidies on domestic products. Although free trade is defined as a win-win strategy because it allows nations to exploit their comparative advantage and maximize economic profit, there are many negative implications hidden behind these encrypted massive agreements.

There are indeed some advantages of free trade, out of which the most important ones are increased production and the benefit of domestic consumers by the provision of lower prices. However, there are many disadvantages of climate change, such as increased domestic instability from international cycles and the danger of structural unemployment arising from a sector debacle. At the same time, free trade assumes that all nations belonging to this international market have similar conditions, which is not the case. In terms of climate change,  free trade represents a serious threat as it is directly related with increased levels of pollution and other environmental problems.There is much literature that criticizes free trade, such as the World Systems Theory,  which describes the world as formed by a core group of countries surrounded by periphery countries. This theory, developed by Immanuel Wallerstein, argues that core countries, which possess

There are indeed some advantages of free trade, out of which the most important ones are increased production and the benefit of domestic consumers by the provision of lower prices. However, there are many disadvantages of climate change, such as increased domestic instability from international cycles and the danger of structural unemployment arising from a sector debacle. At the same time, free trade assumes that all nations belonging to this international market have similar conditions, which is not the case. In terms of climate change,  free trade represents a serious threat as it is directly related with increased levels of pollution and other environmental problems.There is much literature that criticizes free trade, such as the World Systems Theory,  which describes the world as formed by a core group of countries surrounded by periphery countries. This theory, developed by Immanuel Wallerstein, argues that core countries, which possess higher skill and are based on capital-intensive production, exploit the periphery countries. What this suggests is that some sort of colonialist system is at play here. This is complimented by the Dependency Theory, which claims that there is an unbalanced economic structure between peripheral and core countries, sustains that the only way rich countries could develop was by undeveloping others. Free trade represents then, the most exacerbating representation of this relation.


There is much literature that criticizes free trade, such as the World Systems Theory,  which describes the world as formed by a core group of countries surrounded by periphery countries. This theory, developed by Immanuel Wallerstein, argues that core countries, which possess higher skill and are based on capital-intensive production, exploit the periphery countries. What this suggests is that some sort of colonialist system is at play here. This is complimented by the Dependency Theory, which claims that there is an unbalanced economic structure between peripheral and core countries, sustains that the only way rich countries could develop was by undeveloping others. Free trade represents then, the most exacerbating representation of this relation.When linking free trade with climate change, the first concern arises from the fact that increased economic activity, which is promoted and enhanced by free trade, increases GHG emissions. Establishing the link between free trade and the increase in GHG emissions is not an easy task, one has to take into consideration the nature of the economic sector where a particular country has its comparative advantage, as this will determine whether its GHG emissions increase or decrease.

When linking free trade with climate change, the first concern arises from the fact that increased economic activity, which is promoted and enhanced by free trade, increases GHG emissions. Establishing the link between free trade and the increase in GHG emissions is not an easy task, one has to take into consideration the nature of the economic sector where a particular country has its comparative advantage, as this will determine whether its GHG emissions increase or decrease.

Another element to take into consideration in terms of free trade and climate change is transportation. The International Energy Agency estimated that in 2004, transport was responsible fro 23% of the world’s energy-related GHG emissions. Again, as in the previous case, a closer analysis needs to take place. It has been argued that because the majority of the GHG emissions come from terrestrial transport, and the fact that trade takes place mainly via maritime, it is not such a great contribution to GHG emissions. On the other hand, free trade promotes increased production which in one way or another, through maritime or terrestrial transport, translates to increased levels of GHG emissions.On top of all this, some of the World Trade Organization (WTO) are particularly detrimental to the efforts of mitigation, such as the existing rules on technical regulations and standards and the non-discrimination principle, or the rules on trade-related property rights. Some of which are not environmentally injustice but also socially injustice. Inside the UN climate talks, and in many other international arenas, priority is given to economic profits. Developed countries make a special effort to guarantee that free trade will not be inhibited or restraint by such agreements.

On top of all this, some of the World Trade Organization (WTO) are particularly detrimental to the efforts of mitigation, such as the existing rules on technical regulations and standards and the non-discrimination principle, or the rules on trade-related property rights. Some of which are not environmentally injustice but also socially injustice. Inside the UN climate talks, and in many other international arenas, priority is given to economic profits. Developed countries make a special effort to guarantee that free trade will not be inhibited or restraint by such agreements.Despite all these complex elements that need to be taken into when analyzing the linkages between free trade and climate change, the truth is that free trade represents yet another tool from the neoliberal economic system that we live in. A system that promotes and encourages over-consumption to boost economic activity. Were profits are put before the people and the environment.

Despite all these complex elements that need to be taken into when analyzing the linkages between free trade and climate change, the truth is that free trade represents yet another tool from the neoliberal economic system that we live in. A system that promotes and encourages over-consumption to boost economic activity. Where profits are put before the people and the environment.

#climate #climateaction #climatechange #mitigation

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