Environmental damage can occur as much from production as from product use and disposal. Environmental accords demonstrate that when governments focus on defining acceptable levels of environmental performance, they can adopt effective agreements, using labeling, market mechanisms, and other policy tools. Trade specialists fear that process-based distinctions would simply impede trade. But the failure to elaborate such frameworks - and the ad hoc distinctions that nations, under pressure of public demand for environmental protection, may make - pose a greater trade risk.
Principle 12 of the [Rio Declaration] states: "Trade policy measures for environmental purposes should not constitute a means of arbitrary or justifiable discrimination or a disguised restriction on international trade... Environmental measures addressing transboundary or global environmental problems should, as far as possible, be based on an international consensus."
2. No nation should be required to open its markets to goods when the producing nation's persistent failure to enforce environmental laws or flagrant violation of multilaterally agreed environmental performance standards effectively distorts the playing field.
3. The extent to which the 200 or so international environmental agreements impact on trade is largely undocumented. Whether environmental agreements create, obstruct or divert international trade is still unknown.