21 September 2010

Free Trade and Green Jobs

At the Climate Change Law Blog, Daniel Firger has an interesting post on an emerging dispute between Japan and Canada over subsidies for "green jobs." Firger explains:
In what may be an ominous shot across the bow for green jobs advocates, Japan on September 13 submitted a complaint to the World Trade Organization alleging that a Canadian renewable energy law violates WTO non-discrimination rules. [1] At issue are a set of domestic content requirements built into Ontario’s landmark green energy law, [2] which are designed to guarantee that local producers – and local jobs –supply a minimum percentage of the technology used to meet the province’s ambitious goals for renewable energy generation. [3] While Japan’s “Request for Consultation” with Canada does not formally initiate a case before the WTO’s Dispute Settlement Body (DSB), it nevertheless sets the stage for a high-stakes showdown between the two countries, with potentially global repercussions for energy and industrial policy linking renewable power to high tech employment opportunities.
What does this mean for the US?  Firger says that is not yet clear.  What is clear that efforts to prop up industries using government subsidies are unlikely to go unnoticed in our globalized world.