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Trade Climate Assembly


The Trade and Climate Assembly is a joint venture between Queen Mary University of London and the Trade Justice Movement.

This project will convene a citizens assembly, representative of the UK population, and give them the opportunity to engage with the question of whether and how to ensure trade policy supports climate action.

Trade rules are wide-ranging, and have an impact on how governments are able to address climate change. The UK government is negotiating trade agreements which according to their own projections will increase carbon emissions. This points to an urgent need for public discussion about the government's competing priorities around trade and climate. This project will make a significant contribution to:

  • articulating the priorities of the UK public around trade and climate, addressing a significant gap in the current media and political discussion
  • Ensuring the UK significantly improves its processes for democratic engagement in trade policy by demonstrating the feasibility and value of engaging directly with non specialist audiences.


The March 2023 report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reiterated the urgency with which climate change action is needed and that governments are still not doing enough. For example, The High Court recently found that the UK was not meeting its commitments under the Climate Change Act to a legally-binding carbon budget. The IPCC has also been clear that all policy tools will be needed to achieve the necessary large and rapid emissions reductions, yet UK impact assessments show that all of the new trade agreements signed by the UK since Brexit will lead to increased emissions. We believe this project is needed now as part of wider efforts to ensure urgent action in trade policy.

A key contributing factor to government inaction is the lack of its engagement of the public. The UK has been reluctant to develop appropriate mechanisms for democratic engagement in trade policy making. Ordinary people who are affected by both climate and trade policy are not able to voice their concerns and their political representatives have little opportunity to influence policy. Indeed, the UK’s lack of public consultation on the environmental impacts of the UK-Australia FTA has led to a formal complaint under the Aarhus Convention. By centering the public’s view, this project will contribute an important element which has so far been missing from UK trade policy. We hope the results of the research will be published at a time where they can influence possible political manifestos for the next UK General Election and potentially the trade policy of the party in power.


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