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Climate Change and the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement has just been released, and what it contains has generated a serious uproar from environmental, conservation, and wildlife protection groups. After 7 years of negotiations between 12 Pacific Rim nations, they have at long last reached consensus. Aimed at promoting economic growth among its member countries, the TPP also has significant environmental implications. Among them, encouraging further extraction of fossil fuels with “provisions that would accelerate the rate of natural gas exploration, extraction, and consumption.” This could lead to the challenging of several American climate policies.

After the Environmental Chapter of the agreement was released, many environmental groups raised concerns over the agreement’s weak language concerning climate change. Despite addressing several issues like ozone layer protection, dealing with invasive species, and transportation pollution, climate change is not directly addressed. Instead, the chapter’s focus seems to revolve around the transition to low emissions economies, receiving many criticisms for its vagueness.

Trans-Pacific Partnership Diagram

Strong provisions in the agreement that take into consideration the wellbeing of communities and the environment are lacking, raising alarm bells. Greenpeace Australia Pacific elaborates on the topic saying “There are no new enforcement mechanisms to ensure that countries uphold their own environmental standards, and the mechanisms to enhance environmental performance are only voluntary.” Part of the controversy surrounding the TPP’s Environmental Chapter is the ISDS (Investor-State Dispute Settlement). This provision is highly controversial because it gives investors and corporations the power to sue governments if any of their laws or regulations might harm their corporate investments. With this provision in place, some countries might even reconsider passing environmental protections, further damaging ecosystems and wildlife.

U.S Climate Plan Executive Director Evan Weber voiced his concern over the deal stating that “We have no ground to lose in the climate fight. At a time when every policy we propose must be moving us forward towards a just and livable future, the TPP moves us back.” Even though the language and drafting of the TPP has had significant improvements from its predecessors, workers and the environment continue to be the most adversely affected from these negotiations. As the temperature and sea levels rise, action on climate change is more urgent than ever. A free trade agreement with many of the world leading economies failing to consider it is incredibly dangerous.

Ada Moreno, Intern