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WTO Rules against Successful Canadian Clean Energy Program

WTO Rules against Successful Canadian Clean Energy Program


On November 19, 2012, the World Trade Organization (WTO) ruled against Ontario’s renewable energy incentives program, a program intended to lower carbon emissions and create more clean energy jobs.  The WTO ruled that the program, or “feed-in-tariff,” violated rules that make it unlawful for a nation or state to favor local and domestic firms and products over foreign firms and products. 

The Sierra Club and Public Citizen Global Trade Watch expressed disappointment with the WTO’s ruling and even called the WTO’s recent and former actions a threat against development of clean energy in the future. 

Ilana Solomon, a Sierra Club Trade Representative, stated: “As countries take steps to address the climate crisis, the last thing we need is the WTO interfering with innovative climate programs.  Ontario’s solar and wind incentives program seeks to reduce dangerous carbon pollution and create clean energy jobs, and it should serve as a model for other countries, not a punching bag.” 

The Sierra Club and Public Citizen also showed disappointment with the United States.  The United States submitted a third-party brief during the case and showed how Ontario’s program violated rules imposed by the WTO.

Solomon continued, “Instead of attacking another countries’ clean energy program, the U.S. government should focus on how we will build on our own solutions to tackle the climate crisis and create clean energy jobs.” 

The incentives program in Ontario was formed under the Green Energy and Green Economy Act of 2009.  The incentives ensured that that the Ontario Power Authority, Ontario’s public electricity utility, paid competitive prices for green technology they produced over the next 20 years.  Since 2009, the program showed considerable success by forming contracts for about 4,600 megawatts of clean energy and creating over 20,000 jobs. 

The Sierra Club has called the recent ruling a trend by the WTO against green energy and health policies.  For example, the WTO ruled that U.S. dolphin-safe tuna labels were unsafe in May 2012 because they discriminated against Mexican tuna fishers.  In April 2012, the WTO ruled against the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act of 2009 that stopped the sale of candy cigarettes.  In June 2012, the WTO ruled against country-of-origin labeling (COOL) for meat that helped Americans identify where their food was coming from and helped health officials track food disease outbreaks.

Lori Wallach, the Public Citizen Global Trade Watch Director, stated: “Only an attack on this sort of job-creating, climate-chaos-combating policy could put the WTO in worse repute than last year’s string of WTO rulings ordering us to gut popular U.S. laws on country-of-origin meat labels, dolphin-safe tuna labels and limits on candy-flavored cigarettes marketed to kids.”

Source: Sierra Club