Threats to the Climate and Environment

Extreme foreign investor rights & private enforcement would promote offshoring, attacks against our laws

Imagine you are a factory, providing thousands of living wage jobs but also impacting air and water quality. Local communities have organized and successfully gotten laws passed that require you to install additional equipment to clean up your waste water. Would you install that equipment, or move to a country where there were no such requirements? The calculation would be complicated but in the end whatever is more profitable would likely win out. This has been called the global race to the bottom. For exactly this reason it is important that, when we remove trade barriers, we also work to raise environmental protections globally.

The Trans-Pacific Partnership has been touted by the administration to have landmark environmental protections, yet an analysis of the completed text by respected Environmental Law Professor Wold shows that loopholes were written directly into the agreement making nearly all of the standards unenforceable.

Let’s take a close look at exactly how the TPP would trump work to support a healthy, safe environment and to fight climate change:

  • Threat to Forests, Wildlife, and Fish. While the TPP environment chapter should set strong and binding rules to address conservation challenges like illegal timber and wildlife trade, its rules are too weak to have an impact on the ground and are unlikely to be enforced, rendering the chapter essentially meaningless. Read more here.
  • Unfettered Rights to Corporations. The TPP includes provisions that give corporations the right to sue a government for unlimited cash compensation — in private and non-transparent tribunals — over nearly any law or policy that a corporation alleges will reduce its profits. Using similar rules in other free trade agreements, corporations such as Exxon Mobil and Dow Chemical have launched over 600 cases against more than 100 governments. Dozens of cases attack common-sense environmental laws and regulations, such as regulations to protect communities and the environment from harmful chemicals or mining practices. Read more here about how harmful investment rules included in other trade pacts have led to the attack of climate and environmental policies.
  • Increase in Dirty Fracking. The TPP allows for significantly increased exports of liquefied natural gas without the careful study or adequate protections necessary to safeguard the American public. This would mean an increase of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, the dirty and violent process that dislodges gas deposits from shale rock formations. It would also likely cause an increase in natural gas and electricity prices, impacting consumers, manufacturers, workers, and increasing the use of dirty coal power. Read our factsheet on the TPP and natural gas exports here!

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