TPP and our environment

Wikileaks released the environment and investment chapters of the TPP earlier in 2014. Instead of a 21st Century standard of protection, the leaked text shows that the obligations are weak and compliance with them is unenforceable.

These chapters do the bidding of multinationals. The investment chapter is written in their favour and the environmental clauses are deliberately worded so they can’t be enforced. It spouts sugar coated rhetoric – no legal teeth. Offer of meaningless dispute resolution and chat sessions only.

Agreement contains ‘Investor State Dispute Settlement’ (ISDS) clauses. Overseas companies that operate in Aust can sue for hundreds of millions if govt puts barriers or new regulations in the way of their profits – such as new laws and enforcement of environmental regulations.

Any subsidies we might offer renewable energy projects or new laws for endangered species protection could be challenged. Germany was sued €1.4 billion by energy giant Vattenfall for trying to put in place new water quality standards for a coal-fired power plant. The government only managed to avoid the fine by agreeing to weaken its environmental standards — and now the same company is suing Germany an additional €3.7 billion for deciding to phase out nuclear power. This type of legal action has been taken hundreds of times globally under similar trade deals.

Even if future governments wanted to back out of the agreement, these clauses would allow Australia to be sued by international companies via third party countries. The Turnbull government is basically binding the hands of all future governments on environmental issues.

The details of the TPP will remain secret for weeks to come – deliberately to wait until the heat dies down and the public attention dissipates.

There are 30 chapters to the deal. If it’s such a win for us why are the details being hidden?  The deal covers almost everything from medicines and coal, to banking and beef.

Unions, workers’ rights groups and environmentalists are opposed – it only benefits big business.

At a time when the world’s environment and climate is at a crisis stage we are signing a deal that adds to ecological destruction, more fossil fuel use and pollution of the atmosphere.  It’s a ticking time bomb for our environment, wildlife and climate.

It is designed to destroy future climate and clean energy efforts in countries like Australia. Expected to lead to the rubber-stamping of export of natural gas from fracking and will prevent ever including climate change action in trade deals.

Companies could now lobby to cut environment and labour standards worldwide to the minimum.

Australia (under Abbott and Turnbull) has opposed most of the progressive environmental provisions in the TPP. In a letter to the Coalition Government, five major international non-government organisations based in Australia, sought reassurances about the Government’s attitude to strong environmental provisions. Trade Minister Andrew Robb was asked to support the United States in seeking agreement to prohibit wildlife trade that violates foreign law; prohibit subsidies that contribute to overfishing or overcapacity; ensure that the environment chapter is fully enforceable; and ensure that multilateral environment agreements are also enforceable through the TPP. There were no assurances given.

The global biomass push (burning forests under the guise of cleaner energy) has seen the export of pelletised native forest logs from the US quadruple in the last five years.  Once the TPP passes, such devastating environmental tragedies in our forests and oceans, as well as fracking over farmland or the trade in endangered wildlife could spin out of control – thanks to the mechanisms of this secret and ruthless TPP.

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