This Brief seeks to draw attention to WTO TBT Committee work on environmental issues. We argue that the work in this committee provides important insights into the relationship between national environmental policies and the WTO Agreement, and the role of the WTO more generally.
Only a few disputes concerning environmental issues have been adjudicated under the Dispute Settlement mechanism of the WTO. One possible explanation is that there is little conflict between environmental measures and WTO obligations. Alternatively, it may be that such conflicts are frequent but WTO Members refrain from complaining about them, or that they change contested environmental measures when faced with the threat of complaints. This Brief suggests yet another reason, namely that WTO Members defuse a significant number of concerns regarding environmental measures in the context of TBT Committee.