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The power of eco-labels: Communicating climate change using carbon footprint labels consistent with international trade regimes under the WTO

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Information is power. At the intersection of culture, science, mass communication, and law, this paper argues that information provided by a transparent and internationally harmonized eco-label scheme serves to enhance understanding of public policy choices for mitigating climate change.Aproduct carbon footprint (PCF) label communicates climate change information to citizen consumers and can indirectly reduce GHG emissions. PCF labels are effective response measures that countries are taking to address global warming and are not obstacles to international trade. The international community should embrace domestic PCF labeling schemes, whether voluntary or mandatory. The PCF label and associated standards, which countries may use as domestic trade measures in response to the challenges of climate change, should be consistent with the rules and regimes of WTO agreements to ensure that these schemes support fair and free international trade. At some time in the future, the UNFCCC parties may reach agreement on a domestic response, including trade measures, to reduce GHG emissions, and PCF labeling schemes may be adapted as needed to assist developing countries’ participation. The WTO should support environmental trade measures that fight global warming, such as a domestic PCF label and associated standards.


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