International Tax and Public Finance

, Volume 20, Issue 3, pp 381–413 | Cite as

International trade and climate change

  • Xiao Chen
  • Alan Woodland


This paper provides a selective review of the interaction between international trade, international trade policies, environmental policies and climate change. The focus is on the role that international trade and the existence of countries have on the generation of emissions leading to greenhouse gas stocks in the atmosphere and hence, potentially, to climate change and on the role of trade and environmental policies in dealing with this global externality. We first review the question of whether trade exacerbates or contributes to the climate change problem by increasing global emissions, a particularly important issue being the pollution haven problem. Then we consider environmental policies and trade. We analyse non-cooperative environmental policies and investigate whether trade undermines the effectiveness of unilateral environmental policies, in which carbon leakage and international competitiveness are of particular importance. To deal with climate change, cooperation among countries is important. In this aspect, we review the interactions between trade and environmental policies, border tax adjustment policies, and the role of the World Trade Organization in combating climate change arising from economic activities.


International trade Climate change 

JEL Classification

F13 F18 Q54 Q56 



This paper has benefited considerably from the comments of the anonymous referees and the editors. We are particularly grateful for the detailed and insightful comments of Christos Kotsogiannis and Brian Copeland. Alan Woodland gratefully acknowledges the financial support provided by the Australian Research Council through its Discovery Grants program for this research. Views expressed here should not be attributed to the Australian Research Council.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of EconomicsThe University of New South WalesSydneyAustralia

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