Earth Day Network

Stop Protecting Fossil Fuels

The Paris Agreement might be under threat from a new trade agreement

The 71st session of the UN General Assembly focuses on the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals, which were introduced last year. They are the continuation and expansion of the Millennium Development Goals, meant to guide development and planning strategies around the world.

Where does the Paris Agreement stand? 

Coinciding with Climate Week New York, several nations are expected to sign the monumental Paris Agreement, which sets country limits on dangerous greenhouse gas emissions. Nigerian president Muhammadu Buhari has indicted his participation. Earlier this month, China and the US joined the Paris Agreement after years of negotiations for reducing carbon emissions. More recently, Brazil stepped up to ratify the agreement last week. Brazil is accountable for 2.48 percent of emissions—it is the 7th highest emitter in the world,

As of now, 28 nations representing 39 percent of emissions have ratified the Paris Agreement. Thirty-four other nations are expected to ratify by the end of the year. This would bring the Paris Agreement into effect with 58 nations covering a projected 59 percent of emissions.

Secret deal and fossil fuels

A new global trade agreement could change all that. The Trade in Services Agreement (Tisa), being negotiated in secret, could make it harder for governments to favor clean energy over fossil fuels.  The Tisa is meant to open trade between the EU and 22 countries across the global services industry. In a new text reviewed by the Guardian, the signatories would be obliged to work towards “energy neutrality” between renewable energy and fossil fuels.

This leaves the Paris Agreement with complications it doesn’t need. The Paris Agreement text calls for financing opportunities to push forward a pathway to lower greenhouse gas emissions. But if the Tisa goes forward, renewable energy options could be on the back-burner for the EU. Before the Tisa comes into effect, it would need to be approved by all EU member states and by the European parliament.

The future of Tisa isn’t clear but the protection of the fossil fuel industry needs to end.