This paper provides a detailed explanation how the law of the World Trade Organization regulates environmental subsidies with a focus on renewable energy subsidies. The paper begins by discussing the economic justifications for such subsidies and the criticisms of them and then gives examples of different categories of subsidies. Next the paper provides an overview of the relevant WTO rules and caselaw, including the recent Canada-Renewable Energy case. The paper also makes specific recommendations for how WTO law can be improved, and discusses the existing literature discussing reform proposals. The study further finds that because of a lack of clarity in WTO rules, for some clean energy subsidies, a government will not know in advance whether the subsidy is WTO-legal.
GW Paper Series
Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies Research Paper No. RSCAS 2014/93