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Trans-Pacific Partnership Ignores Climate, Asks Countries to Volunteer to Protect the Environment

In March, the White House was touting the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) on its blog stating:

“Through TPP, the Obama administration is doubling down on its commitment to use every tool possible to address the most pressing environmental challenges.”

Reviewing the environment section of the just-released TPP, one thing becomes quite clear. Climate change is not considered one of the “most pressing environmental challenges.”

In the summary of the environmental section posted by the US government it doesn’t mention the climate but does mention the “energy revolution” under the heading of “Transition to a Low-Emissions Economy”.

TPP countries recognize that the world is in the midst of an energy revolution. The agreement includes commitments to cooperate to address issues such as energy efficiency; the development of cost-effective, green technologies; and alternative, clean and renewable energy sources.

And when it comes to Multilateral Environmental Agreements (MEAs) the language promises “reinforcements” to these commitments even though they “may lack binding enforcement regimes.”

TPP countries are signatories to many MEAs covering a wide range of environmental issues. However, these agreements may lack binding enforcement regimes. By requiring MEA implementation, TPP provides valuable reinforcements to these commitments.

And, of course, there is the part about encouraging companies to volunteer to protect the environment.

The Environment chapter includes commitments to encourage companies to voluntarily adopt corporate social responsibility policies, and to use mechanisms, such as public-private partnerships, to help to protect the environment and natural resources.

So, it appears that the TPP doesn’t consider climate change an important issue but as the world continues its “energy revolution” that countries can volunteer to protect the environment.

As reported by the Sydney Morning Herald, Matthew Rimmer, Professor of Intellectual Property and Innovation Law at the Queensland University of Technology, told Fairfax Media it looks like US trade officials have been “green-washing” the agreement.

“The environment chapter confirms some of the worst nightmares of environmental groups and climate activists,” Dr Rimmer said.

Jake Schmidt, International Program director at the Natural Resources Defense Council, concurred in a statement:

“This trade agreement would allow foreign corporations to challenge our health, safety and environmental protections in a foreign tribunal outside our legal system, and it would weaken those bedrock safeguards in the United States. While there are some positive conservation measures, the agreement’s substantial shortcomings should lead Congress to reject it.”

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