Is there tension between WTO practice and the development of renewable energy sources?

Climate change is a hot topic of our time. It is well-known that, quite recently, the UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP) 23 took place in Bonn, in November 2017. The aim of the UN Climate Change Conference is reviewing the implementation of the Convention and Protocols. A common message was delivered during the COP 23: the world community represented by states, regions, business and civil society is committed to fulfilling the obligations under the Paris Agreement and the UN Sustainable Development Goals. The world community acknowledged that action to get on track is urgent and all the actors involved must do better to drive climate action further and faster. Investing in renewables is a potential solution to tackle the issue. Chapter 13 aims at stressing some tensions of the WTO towards renewable energy. First of all, the lack of coherence and cooperation among WTO agreements is here underlined. Some particularly important decisions regarding the issue here included and explained by the authors. These cases involve subsidies accorded to renewable energy enterprises, considered prohibited according to article 3 of the ASCM because of the ‘local content requirement’ they prescribed. In the China – Wind dispute, the official position of the Panel is unknown because China removed the measure at stake after consultations with the US, and the last two disputes are still at a request-for-consultations stage, the Panel and Appellate Body Reports on Canada – Feed-In Tariff Program and Canada – Renewable Energy, offer interesting considerations on the problems of subsidies in the renewable energy sector. The key questions of this analysis are: are measures supporting renewable energy to be considered as ‘subsidies’ according to the ASCM? If they are, can they still be justified? The non-inclusion of the energy issue in WTO agreements is then addressed by the authors. As a result, the possibility of the WTO to acknowledge the obstacles that characterized the energy field is particularly challenging. According to the authors, there is a level of inadequacy of the existing WTO rules in the renewable energy field. What is clear is that climate change will lead to the necessity to adopt the current WTO framework.