Pacific trade deal bad news for climate, say activists

NGOs warn Trans-Pacific Partnership could undermine Paris climate pact; Obama says it observes strongest environmental safeguards in history


The TPP would expand sales of fossil fuels contributing to global warming, say green groups (Flickr/ Jon Olav Eikenes)

By Alex Pashley

Climate campaigners are warning a free trade deal between a dozen Pacific countries on Wednesday risks handing polluters more power.

In Auckland, representatives from twelve nations including the US, Australia and Japan inked the Trans-Pacific Partnership after five years of negotiations. President Barack Obama hailed the tariff-busting deal as including the “strongest labor standards and environmental commitments in history”.

Activists fumed. Campaigners called it a “fossil fuel industry handout” that made a mockery of last year’s global warming accord by boosting polluting tar sands, coal and gas exports. The Paris agreement was the world’s first universal pact to limit carbon emissions.

Friends of the Earth added it “trumped” the Paris agreement, giving power to international tribunals to sue governments and communities who refuse to extract fossil fuels.

Companies would use the TPP, just as the operator of the denied Keystone XL pipeline invoked the North American Free Trade Agreement’s investment rules to demand compensation from the US government, they said.

The deal, which covers 40% of the global economy, will next go to the US Congress for approval. Stiff opposition from anti-globalisation campaigners and unions has shown no signs of dying down.

A similar initiative between the US and EU, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, was expected to be signed by 2015 but has faced setbacks.

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