The Principle of Common Concern and Climate Change
NCCR Trade Working Paper No 2014/18 by Thomas Cottier, Philipp Aerni, Baris Karapinar, Sofya Matteotti, Joëlle de Sépibus and Anirudh Shingal
Effective policies combating global warming and incentivising reduction of greenhouse gases face fundamental collective action problems. States defending short term interests avoid international commitments and seek to benefit from measures combating global warming taken elsewhere. The paper explores the potential of Common Concern as an emerging principle of international law, in particular international environmental law, in addressing collective action problems and the global commons. It expounds the contours of the principle, its relationship to common heritage of mankind, to shared and differentiated responsibility and to public goods. It explores its potential to provide the foundations not only for international cooperation, but also to justify, and delimitate at the same time, unilateral action at home and deploying extraterritorial effects in addressing the challenges of global warming and climate change mitigation. As unilateral measures mainly translate into measures of trade policy, the principle of Common Concern is inherently linked and limited by existing legal disciplines in particular of the law of the World Trade Organization.