Global trade was worth a record $32 trillion in 2022, but amid deteriorating economic conditions and rising uncertainties, growth turned negative in the last half of the year and is set to stagnate in the first half of 2023. However, environmentally friendly products defied the trend, according to a new report.

The silver lining was the strong performance of trade in “green goods”, whose growth held strong throughout the year, says the latest Global Trade Update from the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD).

Green goods, or “environmentally friendly goods”, refer to products that are designed to use fewer resources or emit less pollution than their traditional counterparts.

Defying the downward trend, trade in such goods grew by about four per cent in the second half of the year. Their combined value hit a record $1.9 trillion in 2022, adding more than $100 billion compared to 2021.

Among green goods that performed especially well were electric and hybrid vehicles (+25%), non-plastic packaging (+20%) and wind turbines (+10%).

Global trade is growing green – new report - The New Times


“This is good news for the planet,” says Alessandro Nicita, one of the report’s authors, “as these goods are key to protecting the environment and fighting climate change.”

The good news came just days after the UN released its latest climate report, in which scientists have delivered a “final warning”, saying rising greenhouse gas emissions are pushing the planet to the brink of irreversible change.

More green growth expected

UNCTAD expects green industries to boom as countries scale up efforts to fight climate change and cut emissions.

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The organization, in its recent Technology and Innovation Report 2023, projected the global market for electric cars, solar and wind energy, green hydrogen and a dozen other green technologies to reach $2.1 trillion by 2030 – four times more than their value today.

“The patterns of international trade are anticipated to become more closely tied to the transition towards a greener global economy,” the Global Trade Update says.

Featured image credit: Halifax Port Authority.


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