Climate change, renewable energy, fossil fuels, greenhouse, emissions, law, international law, energy charter treaty, European energy charter, International energy charter, climate law, national implementation, trade law, subsidies, carbon taxes, WTO World trade organization, GATT General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, Techno-nationalism, Net-metering, taxation, Human rights law, energy justice
Climate change is an international issue. Indeed, no matter how much greenhouse gases emissions decrease in Europe, if the world does not act collectively climate change and its consequences will continue. But climate change is not only an international topic, it intersects with many international areas of law.
One of the main aspect of climate change is energy, particularly the transition to renewable sources of energy. In the context of climate change, there is a need to replace fossil fuels with alternatives, particularly renewables. The transition to renewable sources consists in the outgoing energy transition replacing fossil fuels by renewable energy. The use of renewable energy relates to mitigation and the need to change human behavior to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Then what impact does international law and the different areas of it like human rights, climate change or trade laws have on the energy transition to renewables ?
[...] Also, human rights could constitute a basis for a right to healthy and clean environment. The recognition of such autonomous right would certainly support a transition to renewable sources of energy. Several non-binding international and regional instruments protect a stand-alone right to a healthy environment. Also, approximately forty national laws recognize a stand-alone environmental right like France. If such a right was recognized globally, actions of state or companies against the right to clean environment would be considered as human rights violations. [...]
[...] Moreover, article 4 of the Paris Agreement sets out the obligation for the parties to pursue domestic mitigation measures aimed at achieving their Intended Nationally Determined Contribution. These international treaties indirectly promoted renewables, and they are very influential particularly in terms of financing. There is no doubt that international climate law has supported and is still supporting a transition to renewable sources of energy. Under these international conventions, nations have committed themselves to agreed principles of international law. Universal principles established by international climate law draft guidelines on sustainable energy production applicable to both developed and developing countries. [...]
[...] Multiple areas of the law can support a transition to renewable sources of energy. Not only can they support the transition but also it is necessary to deal with it. Human rights and trade law are essential aspects of the promotion of renewable energy. But international law is not enough. As the examples of Colorado, Norway and Denmark shows, states need to adopt specific regulation promoting renewable energy. All of them have adopted legislation or regulation in order to develop this sector Clean Energy plans and voluntary fossil-plant retirement, in Colorado. [...]
[...] For instance, subsidies for renewable energy have been adopted. We can see how much this kind of measures are important with the solar tariffs in the United States. When Trump placed a tariff on imported solar cells as it was coming from China, it impacted the renewable energy sector. Now that Joe Biden is president of the United States, clean energy leaders are urging him to repeal this solar tariff. But exceptions are identified in the GATT at article 20. [...]
[...] First, there is the most-favored nation principle establishing that like products should be treated the same way. For example, the European Union cannot adopt climate policies that treat products from China any less favorably than any other like products from elsewhere. There is currently an issue about the distinction between processes or production methods. This would enable state to treat renewable energy differently from coal-fired plant for example. Then, there are the tariff bindings, no quantitative restrictions and the National treatment principle. [...]
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