Can Governments Ban Materials with Large Carbon Footprint? Legal and Administrative Assessment of Product Carbon Requirements

Discussion Papers 1834, 26 S.

Timo Gerres, Manuel Haussner, Karsten Neuhoff, Alice Pirlot

2019

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Abstract

This paper explores whether governments can ban carbon-intensive materials through product carbon requirements. By setting near-zero emission limits for the production of materials to be sold within a jurisdiction, governments would accelerate the phase out of carbon-intensive production processes. Their announcement could alert basic materials producers, financing institutions, and other relevant stakeholders, thus incentivising them to prepare for this shift by dedicating their innovation efforts and investments to climatefriendly production processes and low-carbon materials. The paper analyses various product standards and technical regulations in the European context. The analysis of these standards and technical regulations offers an overview of the types of environmental requirements that the European Union has already adopted. Therefore, it provides a case study of the political, legal, and technical backgrounds for the development of product carbon requirements, both in the EU and beyond. Second, the paper presents an analysis of the provisions in WTO law that would apply to product carbon requirements, underlining the legal arguments in support of their adoption under international trade law.

Karsten Neuhoff

Abteilungsleiter in der Abteilung Klimapolitik



JEL-Classification: K23;L61;Q54
Keywords: Embodied Carbon, Climate Policy, Standards, Technical Regulations, WTO