The purpose of this paper is to determine whether greenhouse gas (GHG) tradeable instruments will be classified as financial products within the scope of the World Trade Organization (WTO) law and to explore the implications of this finding.
This purpose is achieved through examination of the units of the Australian carbon pricing mechanism (the CPM), namely eligible emissions units. These units are analysed through the lens of the definition of financial products provided in the General Agreement for Trade in Services (the GATS).
This paper finds that eligible emissions units will be classified as financial instruments, and therefore the provisions that govern their trade will be regulated by the GATS. Considering this, this paper explores the limitations that are introduced by the Australian legislation on the trade of eligible emissions units.
This paper is limited in its analysis to the Australian CPM. In order to draw conclusions on the issues raised by this analysis, it is necessary to consider the WTO requirements against an operating emissions trading scheme. The Australian CPM presents a contemporary model of an appropriate scheme.
The findings in this paper are crucial in a GHG-constrained society. This is because emissions trading schemes (ETSs) are becoming popular measures for pricing GHG emissions, and for this reason the units that are traded and surrendered for emissions liabilities must be classified appropriately on a global scale. Failing to do this could result in differential treatment that may be contrary to the intentions of important global agreements, such as the WTO-covered agreements.
Thank you to Shol Blustein and Professor Douglas Fisher for reviewing this article for the author prior to submission.
Jane Deane, F. (2014), "Emissions trading and the GATS financial services provisions: A case study of the Australian carbon pricing mechanism", Journal of International Trade Law and Policy, Vol. 13 No. 1, pp. 44-66. https://doi.org/10.1108/JITLP-06-2013-0017Download as .RIS
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