What's trade policy got to do with climate policy?

March 17, 2016
Liberty Tree Foundation
news photo

The global climate crisis. The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). What's trade policy got to do with climate policy? It's got the whole world to do with it.

This Earth Day to May Day (April 22 - May 1) we plan to link the struggles for  democracy in climate and trade in the U.S.. We can’t afford to allow global corporations to dominate global governance of trade and climate. Instead, it’s time for global climate democracy as well as global economic democracy. 

We’ve provided resources below on the threat posed by the TPP to our planet’s climatic systems. Read and circulate this email, and please be sure to REGISTER YOUR EARTH DAY to MAY DAY Events (click here).

Let’s compare the current state of climate and trade treaties . . .

The Paris Climate Agreement is VOLUNTARY and will not take effect until 2020
The Paris Climate Agreement does not tell oil, gas, or coal producers to leave fossil fuels in the ground. Avoiding runaway climate change means leaving over 80% of the world’s remaining fossil  fuel reserves in the ground. “False solutions” such a bioenergy, carbon capture and storage are promoted, which includes “reforestation,” replacing forests with tree plantations for bioenergy, which means removing indigenous peoples and forest communities from their land for corporations to profit. 

The TPP and TTIP (Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership) will only lead to accelerated development in the U.S. of fossil fuels - in particular, fracked oil, gas, pipeline and port infrastructure for export to the Pacific,  and Europe. Clearly, we are moving into dangerous territory, chain reactions and unforeseen  “tipping” points from which we and the planet might not recover from. Just recently across the Northern Hemisphere we briefly hit 2-degrees C above “normal” for the first time in recorded history. This is not surprising - the first months of 2016 have been the warmest recorded, causing a significant sea level rise due to Arctic and Antarctic ice and the Greenland ice cap melting fast. Additionally, high ocean temperatures are affecting many marine species like the die-off of 23 million salmon in Chilean fish farms due to a strong El Niño that produced a massive algal bloom.

Shockingly, in the Paris Climate Agreement, the carbon footprint of sea and air transport is not required to be calculated in national GHG (greenhouse gas) emission totals, when the TPP will vastly increase imports and exports. Emissions from international flights are on course to triple by 2050, and shipping emissions are set to quadruple.

The TPP is LEGALLY BINDING and the US Congress could pass it by late 2016 
The representatives of the 12 Pacific Rim countries signed the 5,000 page TPP text on February 4, 2016. The TPP covers 40% of the world’s economy (or 1/4th of world trade) and 800 million people (or 12% of the global population).  The  “docking” provision, a new feature in this agreement, allows any country to join that agrees to the negotiated text. This provision will greatly expand the geographic scope as well as the economic and social impact of the TPP far beyond the Pacific Rim.
The TPP must be ratified to come into effect.  This could take 60 days after the 12th country has ratified the agreement, a process with a two-year limit.  The TPP could also come into effect after 6 countries ratify it that together represent 85% of the total GDP of the TPP countries of which the US is 62% and Japan 17%. In this case, only four other countries of small GDP would need to ratify, making it so important to stop the TPP in the US Congress.
The TPP will only increase global warming and costly, devastating extreme weather events 
The TPP is a climate-busting trade agreement that will devastate communities. Many provisions will accelerate the export of fracked oil and gas, tar sands, and coal to Pacific Rim countries, and increase logging and mining. In Pacific Rim countries, the destruction of forests and needed agricultural land will continue for production of bio-fuels used for carbon credits – a false solution to the climate crisis.
With increased off-shore manufacturing in countries that use low-cost sweatshop and slave labor, use unsustainable dirty carbon fuels and have lax enforcement of environmental laws, air and sea transport around the Pacific Rim will accelerate adding to the carbon-footprint of the imported consumer goods.  
Increased carbon and increased climate chaos means increased costs to taxpayers as local and state governments try to plan for and mitigate global warming and extreme weather impacts. Increased fires, floods, violent storms, hurricanes and tornadoes have both the huge economic cost for emergency response, relief services and rebuilding, and the personal cost when property and lives are lost and communities are torn asunder.
The TPP includes the same Investor-to-State (ISDS) rules as NAFTA, CAFTA (Central America Free Trade Agreement), and hundreds of other bi-lateral trade agreements. ISDS rules allow foreign corporations to sue signatory governments in secret trade tribunals, bypassing national courts. These rules allow for foreign corporations to challenge local, state and federal environmental and health laws to protect our air, land and water as a “regulatory taking” of expected future profits.  Multinationals have attacked natural resource policies, environmental protections, health and safety regulations and more.  
Significantly, one-half of new ISDS cases in 2014 were by oil, gas, mining or power generation corporation and against countries, such as Canada and Germany, trying to set policy to transition away from fracking or nuclear energy to a sustainable, clean energy and economy. The TPP will give 9,000 corporations in the 11 TPP countries the right to sue the U.S.  and 19,000 U.S. corporations the same right in those countries. This is important because, for example, BHP Billiton, the largest  Australian energy corporations, has many fracking operations in the U.S. and the Pacific Rim countries that are so vulnerable to extreme weather and rising seas will be discouraged from transitioning to cleaner energy. 
Take action now against the TPP!
Pass a local TPP-Free Zone Resolution to protect people and the planet and stop the TPP. Start now to build a coalition to take a TPP-Free Zone resolution before your city or county council. Join the over 100 cities and counties where resolutions have already been passed. Learn how from the Alliance for Democracy at tppfreezones.org.
Read on to learn more about why we need to stop the climate-busting TPP and how to take action: