Free and fair trade can support the low carbon transition

26 July 2021

A new report from the Board of Trade challenges the concept of green protectionism, whereby environmental aims are used as a cover to enact damaging protectionist policies.

Green Trade, available at, argues that the UK is well-placed to bring together the trade and environmental agendas as a global leader on decarbonisation and a champion for free trade.

In addition, it demonstrates how green trade presents a major economic opportunity for Britain that will drive high-value jobs and sustainable growth into every part of the country.

The report recommends using the UK’s independent trade policy to reduce barriers to green trade and tackle environmentally damaging market distortions — such as industrial subsidies.

International Trade Secretary Liz Truss said: “The UK is a leader in green exports and this report shows how free trade, free markets and free enterprise can be leveraged to counteract green protectionist policies that hold back the global transition to a low-carbon economy.”

Experts predict the UK’s low-carbon economy could grow by 11% per year between 2015 and 2030 — four times faster than the rest of the economy — delivering between £60 billion and £170 billion of export sales in goods and services by 2030.

Emma Howard Boyd, Chairwoman of the Environment Agency and Adviser to the Board of Trade, said: “In the last month, we have seen fatal heat in Canada, floods in Germany and a climate-induced famine in Madagascar. Natural disasters have caused $3 trillion of damage this century. Trade policy has a role in ensuring greater physical and economic resilience.”