Trade in environmental goods

Trade in Environmental Goods at a Glance 

Over the past decades the trade community has tried to find new ways to contribute to sustainability issues and the fight against climate change. More recently, the Paris Agreement has put further pressure on the trade community to find new and innovative mechanisms to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and limit global warming to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels. One of the main mechanisms the trade community has tried to utilize is the elimination of custom duties on environmental goods to make them cheaper for businesses and consumers and, in this way, increase their use.

After years of negotiation there has been little progress in trade liberalization of environmental goods, and more specifically on an Environmental Goods Agreement (EGA). Nevertheless, the global trade of environmental goods has risen in the last years. The United Nations Environment Programme (UN Environment) (2013) reports that between 2001 and 2007 the total export value of environmental goods has grown by more than 100%.

UN Environment has previously contributed to this arena. In 2014 it published the report, “South-South Trade in Renewable Energy- A Trade Flow Analysis of Selected Environmental Goods.” UN Environment, through the Environment and Trade Hub, and through the Partnership for Action on Green Economy, is continuing to contribute to this debate by providing a globally consistent time series of trade of environmental goods. With this information, a series of tables and maps have been created with the aim of identifying the main stylized facts related to environmental goods using trade pattern information. Some of the questions that can be tackled with this information are: which countries are more involved in the trading of environmental goods? Where are the main markets for these products? Is there any difference between the trade patterns of environmental goods and traditional goods?

The Technical Note is an essential companion to the tables and maps provided, and they explain how they must be accessed and interpreted. The maps and tables can be accessed here (via Dropbox).

Navigating the Data 

The link above gives direct and convenient access to the tables and maps. Import and Export tables can be accessed through the file entitled “Tables_all.pdf.” The tables are provided by country in alphabetical order.

The different maps are accessible via the “maps” folder and is divided in country folders organized alphabetically per the countries ISO code. The file names and their correspondence with the different map titles are detailed in the table below. The “XXX” designation in the File Name column represents each country’s three letter ISO code.