This article assesses the political dynamics and the legal status of environmental concerns in WTO case law and in the recent WTO negotiations. It explains how the WTO's Dispute Settlement Body plays a crucial role in the determination of the profile of environmental concerns in a trade policy context. It is not only respected by the biggest economic powers but it often has to assume a law-making function due to the vagueness of parts of the WTO agreements. The trade regime takes the environment into consideration only as exceptions to the trade disciplines. The article argues that the political dynamics are stacked against a balanced consideration of trade and environmental priorities, and the perspectives for a significantly improved treatment of environmental issues in today's negotiation climate are assessed pessimistically.