President Obama and the U.S. Congress need to hear from you before they rush toward approving a massive new trade agreement that would benefit corporations and undercut serious efforts to fight climate change.
This deal—the Trans-Pacific Partnership or TPP—has been called "NAFTA on steroids."1 It's the latest and largest in a series of international agreements that have attacked working women and men, fueled mindless and carbon-intensive consumption, and prevented governments from enforcing their own laws to cut greenhouse gas emissions.
Trade deals such as NAFTA and the TPP bestow corporations with outrageous new powers, including the right to directly challenge participating governments for enacting any measures that jeopardize their profits. These corporate grievances are heard by unelected, unaccountable trade tribunals—and as history has shown, the energy and mining giants will seize on them to try to gut all manner of environmental laws.2
Existing trade deals and World Trade Organization rules are already being used to block subsidies for renewable energy and other supports for the clean energy sector.3 And the expansion of such agreements has gone hand in hand with the accelerating rise in greenhouse gas emissions.4
In short, this corporate free trade model that the TPP represents isn't only destabilizing our economies—it's also a key reason why our governments have failed to come to grips with the climate crisis.
History tells a clear story of poorly written trade agreements spelling disaster for the environment. In 2009, Canada's largest province, Ontario, passed the Green Energy and Green Economy Act—an ambitious plan to curb fossil fuels. For four years, it increased the production and use of renewable energy and created 31,000 jobs, and by 2013, only one coal plant remained in operation.5
That's where the good news ends.
Because of Ontario's attempts to build its local wind and solar industries, Canada was challenged for violating trade obligations—and soon, a core element of the province's green energy plan was scrapped.6 The message was clear for governments everywhere: If you take robust steps to fight climate change that threaten multinational corporations, you'll be challenged—and beaten—in unelected trade tribunals.
After years of runaway emissions growth, scientists warn that this is our last chance to prevent catastrophic climate change. The TPP would make that job significantly harder. Yet the U.S. Congress could vote next week to rush through the TPP without debate or amendment.
Thank you. Keep up the fight.–Naomi Klein
Naomi Klein is an award-winning journalist, activist, and author of "The Shock Doctrine", "No Logo", and her most recent book, "This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate."
1. "NAFTA on Steroids," The Nation, June 27, 2012
2. "What Is ISDS?" AFL-CIO, accessed May 4, 2015
3. "Some Very Initial Thoughts on the US-China Deal," This Changes Everything, November 12, 2014
5. "Trading Away Our Environmental Future: The Trans-Pacific Partnership," Truthout, January 21, 2015
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