WTO Pours It On
The World Trade Organization responded to its environmental critics yesterday by releasing a report blaming poverty, not trade, for environmental degradation. The report didn’t address enviros’ criticisms that WTO rules clash with environmental goals and that decisions by its dispute settlement body have undermined environmental protection. The report instead notes that as countries grow richer, they tend to spend more on the environment. The report did acknowledge that trade could magnify the effects of bad national policies — for example, if governments permit unsustainable logging — but it argues that trade barriers are an ineffective means of correcting environmental problems. Some green groups cautiously noted that the report is a step in the right direction; still, World Wildlife Fund criticized it for underestimating the destructive impact of trade and trade’s contribution to the over-consumption of natural resources.