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Policy Options | August 2017
The environment in Canadian trade agreements
by Jean-Frédéric Morin and Myriam Rochette, Options politiques
The number of trade agreements that include environmental clauses is on the rise. Many agreements devote an entire chapter to environmental protection and address a broad range of issues including the protection of endangered species, hazardous waste management, climate change and forest conservation. Some of these clauses are even more specific and restrictive than those in multilateral agreements on the environment.
At the same time, trade agreements are often criticized for their harmful effects on the environment. Some nongovernmental organizations are concerned that trade agreements limit a government’s ability to enact environmental protection measures that run counter to the interests of exporters and foreign investors. According to them, trade agreements do not provide sufficient environmental exceptions to trade commitments.
What is the Canadian practice in this regard, and how does it differ from those of other countries? To answer this question, we used the TRade & ENvironment Database (TREND), developed at Université Laval based on the trade agreements collected by the Design of Trade Agreements project. The TREND dataset identifies almost 300 different categories of environmental provisions in approximately 700 trade agreements signed since 1947.