Friday, December 04, 2015

Capitalism Rules

Trade in Services Agreement (TISA) is currently being negotiated by the U.S., EU and 22 other countries that account for two-thirds of global GDP, would be the largest trade treaty of its kind in history and takes aim at the world's massive service industries. According to World Bank figures, "services"—an umbrella term that covers everything from package delivery to telecommunications to finance to energy production—comprise 75 percent of the EU economy, 80 percent of the U.S. economy, and the majority of the global economy. The media is focused on the COP21 Paris "talks" while completely ignoring those Geneva TISA meetings that are scheming to over-ride any climate change legislation that may come out of Paris.

Friends of the Earth trade analyst Bill Waren warns that "In the alleged interest of making trade easier, environmental regulations are at risk of being 'harmonized down' to the lowest common denominator, and public services of an environmentally-sensitive nature are in danger of being privatized." 

Friends of the Earth president Erich Pica also cautioned “It is hypocritical for President Obama and other leaders of developed economies to meet in Paris to address climate change when their trade ministers are secretly crafting a Trade in Services Agreement which would undermine initiatives to cut carbon emissions....Big oil services companies, water services multinationals, tar sands pipeline companies, exporters of fossil fuels and other corporate polluters are beneficiaries of TISA. President Obama and other heads of state are their willing handmaidens.”

TISA would "recklessly undermine urgent work worldwide to reduce dangerous carbon emissions, create clean energy jobs, and increase energy security for economies everywhere," according to Victor Menotti of the International Forum on Globalization. Denouncing TISA as the "Free Fracking Agreement," Menotti says that under the deal, "popular policies like requiring public input for big projects, approving building in sensitive areas, or hiring local labor, are all stealthily made vulnerable to being attacked."

Nick Dearden, director of Global Justice Now, said. "Regardless of the outcomes of the Paris climate talks, if TISA was passed it would massively reduce the ability of national governments to make the sort of rational choices about energy production that would move us further towards a low carbon economy," Dearden continued. "TISA seeks to place corporate handcuffs on our governments at a time when they need as much flexibility as possible to steer us away from fossil fuel dependency," he said. "If we want to fight climate change, we must also stop TISA and the other toxic trade deals that are being cooked up behind closed doors."

The mainstream environmentalist lobby group, the Sierra Club, has also indicated trade agreements presently being made will hinder moves to mitigate climate change. The Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) is a "polluter-friendly" deal that "poses a panoply of threats to our climate and environment," a new report from the Sierra Club finds. "After years of extraordinary secrecy," the report states, "it’s finally clear what TPP negotiators were trying to hide: The TPP is a raw deal for communities and our climate."

The TPP would: empower fossil fuel corporations to attack climate policies in private tribunals; lock in dirty fossil fuel production by expediting natural gas exports; increase climate-disrupting emissions by shifting U.S. manufacturing overseas; and impose new limits on government efforts to combat climate disruption.

Explaining how the deal would increase carbon emissions with a shift towards more overseas manufacturing, Ben Beachy and Ilana Solomon of the Sierra Club's Responsible Trade Program write in a blog post that

“The TPP would force U.S. manufacturers to compete directly with companies in low-wage countries like Vietnam and Malaysia, encouraging U.S. manufacturing to set up operations abroad. This “offshoring” of U.S. manufacturing would not only cost us jobs in the U.S., but also increase climate-disrupting emissions. This is because production in Vietnam is more than four times as carbon-intensive, and production in Malaysia is twice as carbon-intensive, as U.S. production. This shift in manufacturing from the United States to countries on the other side of the Pacific Ocean would also increase shipping-related greenhouse gas emissions.
The TPP would further expand climate-disrupting emissions by eliminating tariffs on cash crops like oil palm, encouraging wider production in countries such as Malaysia, where oil palm expansion has played a leading role in destroying tropical forests that capture carbon. Increased oil palm production also would fuel an industry that is already rife with human rights and labor abuses.”

“As the world’s leaders gather in Paris to tackle climate disruption, the U.S. is pushing its largest trade deal in history, the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which not only fails to mention the climate crisis, but is actually counterproductive," Solomon said in a media statement.”


Another environmentalist organization that concentrates upon food issues, Grain, has also echoed the threats of those trade deals which contain measures that allow food companies to challenge popular initiatives that are good for the climate but impinge on their profits. “Buy local” programmes, with their obvious benefits to fighting climate change, are generally considered discriminatory and trade distorting under free trade doctrine. The TTIP, for instance, may forbid initiatives to support the use of local foods in public services like schools and hospitals. The same is true of initiatives to support “green” purchasing or programmes to require purchasing from small- and medium-sized enterprises in the name of mitigating climate change. Both of these types of effort can be contested by companies as discriminatory, under the investor-state dispute mechanisms contained in many trade agreements. 

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