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Climate Change Adaptation with Better Agricultural Trade and Investment Rules

Christian Haberli, Senior Research Fellow, World Trade Institute, Geneva

Organised by the Centre for Law, Governance and Regulation of the Global Economy (GLOBE) and the Postgraduate Seminar Series, Warwick Law School

The structural developments related to climate change also impact on agriculture. The good news is that this world could possibly feed twice the number of its present population even in a changing climate, and without using substantially more land and forest resources. At the same time, while poor developing countries and producers have always been and still are the smallest greenhouse gas (GHG) emitters, they are likely to be among the most severely climate-affected. This means that their food security is perhaps the single most important equity issue in the whole climate change discussion. For subsistence farmers and poor consumers in those countries, climate change is a new, major and highly complex cause for (additional) food insecurity. Sadly, in the run-up to the Paris Climate Summit (COP21) two under-researched issues of policy space and coherence of tools are totally neglected: trade liberalisation (e.g. the Doha Round failure to further limit subsidies abuse) and investment (e.g. the ‘land grab’ potential of FDI). In fact, today’s regulatory deficits are anything but climate change-resilient – and this includes the necessary product and process distinction according to climate impacts. What is required first and foremost are multilaterally agreed climate-smart best farming and processing practices.