The Aldersgate Group, an alliance of dozens of business and civil society leaders which also includes Tesco and John Lewis, says that all post-Brexit Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) should include reciprocal commitments to the Paris Agreement and a binding non-regression clause.
Significantly, the UK is currently negotiating an FTA with the US – the only major economy not to have committed to the Paris Agreement, after the Trump administration pulled the nation out of the deal.
Entitled ‘Seize the Moment’, the Aldersgate Group’s report says all future FTAs should also contain measures to remove barriers to the trade of low-carbon goods and environmental services, and a legally binding right for either party to increase environmental or climate standards.
This would help both parties reap their fair share of the global low-carbon goods market, forecast to surpass £1 trillion (US$1.25trn) by 2030, while ensuring that they can respond to future climate events and improved scientific research.
Aside from the FTAs, the report urges the upcoming Trade Bill to guarantee that all agreements receive adequate parliamentary scrutiny and stakeholder engagement “well ahead” of their ratification to allow time for in-depth sustainability impact assessments. The report also highlights the need to “look beyond FTAs" and also use bilateral trade negotiations and multilateral bodies, such as the UN and the World Trade Organisation (WTO), to boost low-carbon trade.
Finally, the Aldersgate Group reiterates its demands for stronger domestic policies designed to spur a just low-carbon transition which boosts the national economy. The publication of the report comes less than a week before the UK is due to begin FTA agreements with Australia and New Zealand. New Zealand, like the UK, has enshrined a 2050 net-zero target in law. Australia is currently considering a 2050 net-zero target.