Green leaders and environmental groups in Australia have added their voices to an outpouring of anger over this week’s progress of the huge Trans Pacific Partnership – a trade deal encompassing a dozen countries that, if ratified, will set economic rules for 40 per cent of the world economy.
As Climate Progress reports, the TPP aims to eliminate or reduce tariffs between Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the United States, and Vietnam.
And while it does address some environmental concerns — such as trade of illegally harvested resources or wildlife trafficking — to many Monday’s announcement was “the culmination of a long-watched train wreck.”
Social media sites were peppered with criticism, on Tuesday, describing the preliminary agreement between trade ministers from 12 countries as a “pathetic betrayal” of the environment, a prioritisation of corporate investment over nature, a ticking time bomb for climate policy, and an all-round bad deal.
— Global Trade Watch (@PCGTW) October 5, 2015
“It’s still the same disaster for climate change it was three months ago,” 350.org’s Karthik Ganapathy told ThinkProgress.
Ganapathy, among many others, argues the main concern with the TPP is that it protects multinational corporations that profit from fossil fuels.
Some even fear it will allow companies to sue countries that enact laws to limit fossil fuel extraction or carbon emissions, if it interferes with profits – a big concern for future climate and clean energy efforts in countries like Australia.
“The TPP is a ticking time-bomb for climate policy,” said Friends of the Earth International Economic Justice Coordinator, Sam Cossar-Gilbert, “because it further cements the unfair… mechanism that enables foreign corporations to sue governments for protecting the environment.
“Many government policies needed to address global warming will be subject to suits brought before biased, not transparent and undemocratic international investment tribunals.”
Cossar-Gilbert also argues that the deal will threaten regulators’ capacities to effectively regulate the roughly 85,000 chemicals in commerce needed to protect human health and the environment.
The deal is also expected to lead to the rubber-stamping of export facilities for natural gas from fracking and will prevent the US Trade Representative from ever including climate change action in trade deals, according to Ganapathy.
For its part, the White House is chalking the deal up as a triumphant success, touting, in particular, its potential for environmental conservation as a “once-in-a-generation chance to protect our oceans, wildlife, and the environment.”
But this has been called out as greenwash by some, and labelled pathetic by others, including US environmental activist and author Naomi Klein.
— Naomi Klein (@NaomiAKlein) October 5, 2015
In Australia, former Greens leader Christine Milne tweeted that the deal was “about increasing US influence in east Asia, to try to curb China,” adding that companies would now lobby to “cut environment and labour standards worldwide to the minimum they set under TPP.”
Even Donald Trump doesn’t like it. http://www.breitbart.com/big-government/2015/10/05/exclusive-donald-trump-declares-war-on-obamatrade-time-to-send-a-real-businessman-to-white-house-to-end-this/
But, as Sam Cossar-Gilbert notes, the fight is not over yet.
“The TPP still faces a number of challenges before being ratified at the national level, with a hostile US Congress, an election in Canada, a court action in Japan and wide spread opposition in Australia.”