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Japan Trade Agreement: Climate Change Commitments

Volume 684: debated on Thursday 19 November 2020

What assessment she made of the potential effect of the free trade agreement with Japan on the UK’s progress on meeting its climate change commitments. (908995)

The UK-Japan agreement locks in the benefits of the EU-Japan deal, including provisions on climate change such as those that reaffirm our respective commitments to the UN framework convention on climate change and the Paris agreement; those that promote trade in low-carbon goods and services; and those that support co-operation on trade and climate.

Although I am disappointed with some aspects of the Japan trade agreement, such as the provisions on data, I am heartened that there is no investor-state dispute settlement clause in the new UK-Japan FTA, as ISDS has been used by large corporations to sue Governments over environmental regulations on issues such as water pollution, deforestation and fracking. Will the Minister confirm that, to protect our natural environment, the UK will not seek such an arrangement with either Japan or any other new trading partners after Brexit?

I thank the hon. Lady for that question. I ought to add first of all that we really welcomed the announcement that Japan made on Monday, in advance of COP26, that it will be seeking to become carbon neutral by 2050. On her question about ISDS, I will be frank. This country is already party to ISDS with dozens of agreements, but let us recognise that the UK has never lost a case brought against it in ISDS. It is there as much to protect British businesses trading abroad as it is for foreign investors in this country, so her alarmism about ISDS is misplaced.