Economics for the Earth Blog

Friends of the Earth condemns World Trade Organization ruling against Ontario green energy program

Posted Nov. 20, 2012 / Posted by: Lisa Matthes

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Friends of the Earth was disappointed by today’s ruling by a World Trade Organization tribunal that Ontario, Canada’s “feed-in tariff” program to increase green energy’s share of its electricity market and build local, green energy infrastructure violates international trade law. The decision illustrates how the WTO has put itself in a position to make future choices about climate policy based not on sound climate science, but rather based on trade rules.

The WTO decision comes at a time when a trade war on solar energy policy is well under way. The United States has imposed a 31 percent tariff on solar panels imported from China, alleging violation of U.S. law on unfair subsidies and “dumping” of excess inventory on the U.S. market. China has retaliated by threatening to impose tariffs on poly-silicon imported from the U.S. used to make solar energy products, and by bringing a World Trade Organization complaint against U.S. imposition of countervailing duties on a number of Chinese products including solar panels.       

Erich Pica, president of Friends of the Earth, had this to say about today’s decision:

“The most unsettling thing about the WTO decision is that it is not an isolated incident -- rather it is part of an alarming trend of international trade disputes posing significant risks to global efforts to curb climate change. Trade tribunals that focus on theoretical free market efficiency are becoming the de facto forum for resolving international disputes over climate policy. The World Trade Organization in the Ontario feed-in tariff case favored profits over the planet -- unfortunately this is typical of the WTO and other international trade policy makers.

“Climate policy should not be decided by the WTO and similar entities, based on trade law; instead we need to support building a green economy based on climate science.”

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Contact:
Lisa Matthes, lmatthes@foe.org, 202-222-0730
William Waren, wwaren@foe.org, 202-222-0746

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