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US Takes Hard Position On Climate Change In TPPA

US Takes Hard Position On Climate Change, Biodiversity & Indigenous Rights In TPPA

Proposals from the US on climate change and biodiversity, tabled as the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement talks resume this week in Singapore, have been leaked by Peru environment group RedGE.

The two provisions are alternatives to text in the environment chapter that Wikileaks posted in February.

‘The US keeps referring to this as a gold standard agreement for the 21stcentury. But its position on climate change and indigenous rights is Neanderthal’, according to Professor Jane Kelsey from the University of Auckland.

‘The US can’t even bring itself to use the phrase “climate change”’, Kelsey observed.

Its proposal seeks to replace the Article entitled “Trade and Climate Change” with one headed ‘’Transition to a low-emissions economy”.

‘The existing proposal was hardly robust. But the US wants to remove altogether any reference to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change and commitments to cooperate on climate change initiatives.’

‘Whether that is to appease the climate deniers in the Tea Party, whose votes he needs to get the deal through Congress, or some other reason, Obama will be slammed by environmental groups that are strong allies of the Democrats.’

The US also wants to gut the Article on Trade and Biodiversity by removing the more progressive elements and promoting rights, presumably of corporations, to access genetic resources.

The leaked environment chapter was already criticised for failing to meet the obligations of New Zealand and others to indigenous peoples under the Convention on Biological Diversity, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and related instruments. It also fell well short of the Waitangi Tribunal’s recommendations in the WAI-262 claim on indigenous knowledge and resources.

The US is not a signatory to those instruments and opposes any provisions that are explicitly or implicitly linked to them. Its proposal removes a commitment to ‘encourage’ the sharing of benefits from using genetic resources with indigenous peoples in a fair and equitable way.

It also wants to drop the clause that recognises states have sovereign rights over their natural resources and the authority to decide who has access to their genetic resources. That clause also says access to genetic resources for exploitation should be subject to prior informed consent of the state that provides them.

‘New Zealand has already taken the low road in supporting a weak environment text’ according to Professor Kelsey. ‘It has to stand firm with the other governments this week and tell the US to bury its proposals in the mausoleum where they belong’.

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