Green Groups: Leaked TPP Environment Chapter Unacceptable
Posted on 15 January 2014
Washington DC:Today, WikiLeaks posted a draft environment chapter of the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) that governments have negotiated in secret for nearly four years.
TPP nations have billed the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement as an "ambitious, 21st-century trade agreement." However, a joint analysis of the WikiLeaks document, dated November 2013, by environmental organizations reveals that countries are nowhere close to that goal.
“This peek behind the curtain reveals the absence of an ambitious 21st-century trade agreement promised by negotiating countries,” said Carter Roberts, CEO of WWF-US.
“The lack of fully-enforceable environmental safeguards means negotiators are allowing a unique opportunity to protect wildlife and support legal sustainable trade of renewable resources to slip through their fingers. These nations account for more than a quarter of global trade in fish and wood products and they have a responsibility to address trade’s impact on wildlife crime, illegal logging, and overfishing,” he said.
Last Autumn, 24 environmental organizations, including the Sierra Club, Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), and WWF-US, sent a letter to the U.S. Trade Representative, Ambassador Froman, calling for a strong and legally enforceable environment chapter that includes the elimination of harmful fisheries subsidies, which are a key driver of overfishing; a ban on trade in illegally harvested timber, wildlife, and fish; and obligations to uphold domestic environmental laws and commitments under multilateral environmental agreements.
“If the environment chapter is finalized as written in this leaked document, President Obama’s environmental trade record would be worse than George W. Bush’s,” said Michael Brune, executive director of the Sierra Club.
“This draft chapter falls flat on every single one of our issues - oceans, fish, wildlife, and forest protections - and in fact, rolls back on the progress made in past free trade pacts,” he said.
Since a bipartisan consensus on trade was reached in May 2007 between Congress and the Bush Administration, the environment chapters of all U.S. free trade agreements have been legally enforceable and included a list of environmental treaties that countries committed to uphold. Today's leaked text does not meet the standard set by Congress.
"Environmental protections are only as effective as their enforcement provisions, and a trade agreement with weak enforcement language will do little or nothing to protect our communities and wildlife," said Peter Lehner, executive director of the NRDC.
"Starting with the Bush administration, the United States has insisted that all trade pacts include enforceable environmental protections, and we should settle for nothing less in the TPP. Considering the dire state of many fisheries and forests in the Asia-Pacific region and the myriad threats to endangered wildlife, we need a modern trade agreement with real teeth, not just empty rhetoric," said Lehner.