I’ve spent the last few days, as many of you will have done over half term, with my family. So I’ve missed a few days but am back in harness now.

The highlight for me, on day 6, was the realisation that border carbon adjustments are on the “agenda” but not on the agenda. I guess I need to unpack that Zen-like statement.

I’ve just sat through a Forum on the Impacts of Climate Mitigation Measures. This is meant to look at, both negative and positive, unintended consequences of anything the world does to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. A detailed workplan was agreed at COP25 in Madrid (2019) although, because of Covid, progress on the workplan has been slow. This workplan explicitly mentions impacts on trade but does not explicitly mention border tariffs.

As a result, many (mostly developing) nations are requesting that a technical paper be produced that discusses the impact of border carbon adjustments on exports from developing nations whilst other (mostly developed) nations say that the issue is “out of scope” because it’s not explicitly mentioned in the agreed workplan.

So BCAs are on the “agenda” in the sense that everyone is talking about them but they’re not yet on the formal agenda. We’ll see what happens in the follow-up meetings on June 8th and 9th.

I’m actually quite cheered by this particular disagreement. The reason it wasn’t explicitly on the agenda is simply because it wasn’t a major issue for anyone in 2019. It’s now a big issue for everyone. That’s good! I’m also cheered that those asking for BCAs to be discussed now, are not saying they’re against them. They simply want to understand the impacts. I hope that’s so that solutions to any down-sides can be found.

This is also something for us to think about in CCL. Would the BCAs that we support have an undesirable impact on low-income countries?

Dave Waltham