EU to refuse to sign trade deals with countries that don't ratify Paris climate change accord

Trade chief Cecilia Malmstrom says Paris clause ‘needed in all EU trade agreements’

Jon Stone
Monday 12 February 2018 16:02 GMT
Workers adjust and clean the logo of the European Commission at the entrance to its headquarters
Workers adjust and clean the logo of the European Commission at the entrance to its headquarters

The European Union will refuse to sign trade deals with countries that do not ratify the Paris climate change agreement and take steps to combat global warming, under a new Brussels policy.

Cecilia Malmstrom‏, the EU’s trade chief, said a binding reference to the Paris agreement would be “needed in all EU trade agreements” from now on, noting that it had been included in a deal with Japan.

She said upcoming deals with Mexico and the South American trade bloc Mercosur would also include the clause.

A European Commission spokesperson confirmed that the new EU policy would also apply to a post-Brexit trade deal with the UK – meaning Britain would risk its trade deal with the bloc were it ever to try to back out of the accord.

The move effectively means the 500-million-citizen bloc is throwing its trade might behind tackling climate change.

But the policy also means a future trade deal with the US as long as Donald Trump is in office is off the table for now. The US President has indicated that he will not sign up to the deal to cut greenhouse emissions and has said he wants to renegotiate it – a plan most other countries, including the UK, have rejected.

Conveniently, talks on a trade agreement between the EU and US were effectively frozen from 2016 after Mr Trump was elected.

Donald Trump has heavily criticised the climate change accord (Reuters)

The Paris accord aims to prevent the earth from warming more than 2C above pre-industrial temperatures. 195 countries have signed the agreement, and 174 have become party to it.

A European Commission spokesperson told The Independent: “All agreements negotiated by the EU include a very substantial chapter on trade and sustainable development with social and environmental standards shaping the agreements.

“Since the deal we concluded last year with Japan, this chapter contains an explicit reference to the ratification and actual implementation of the Paris climate deal.

“This point is a priority for the EU and it would be difficult to imagine concluding an important trade deal without an ambitious chapter on trade and sustainable development attached to it.

“When it comes to the negotiations with the US for a trade agreement, those are ‘frozen’ since the end of 2016.”

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