Code Shift: The environmental significance of the 2022 amendments to the Harmonized System

This paper highlights the environmental significance of recent changes to the Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System (HS), approved by members of the World Customs Organization in early 2020. These changes, which will go into effect at the beginning of 2022, facilitate the monitoring of trade in both environmentally sensitive products and “environmental goods”— that is, goods that serve an environmental purpose. Notably, this includes new commodity codes specific to several technologies that use solar energy and energy-efficient light-emitting diodes. The brief concludes by discussing a number of goods for which greater specification in the HS would facilitate the negotiation of trade agreements aimed at environmental goods and trade statistics collected on those goods. These insights are highly relevant to specialists working on trade or environmental policy, as well as customs authorities.