This contribution illustrates some unresolved issues and tensions that characterize the way the WTO deals with renewable energy subsidies. Indeed, the indisputable urgency to address the negative impacts of climate change on the one hand, and the use of subsidies to boost and support a country’s renewable energy sector on the other, provide momentum to better define the legal framework offered by the World Trade Organization (WTO). It is fundamental to ascertain whether the current framework represents an adequate model to address renewable energy subsidies, or whether a more flexible interpretation of WTO Agreements toward sustainable development and the protection of the environment should be adopted instead. In view of that, this paper carefully investigates the evolution of the WTO subsidies disciplines, focusing in particular on the approach of the WTO towards renewable energy subsidies. This article is divided in three sections. The first one offers an overview of WTO disputes involving subsidies in the renewable energy sector, the second one focuses on the recent decisions in the Canada – Renewable Energy and Canada – Feed-in Tariff Program disputes and on some important issues they raise, while in the last one we draw our conclusions.
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Paolo Davide Farah
Founder, President and Director
Elena Cima
Research Associate

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