Can Europe Make It?

When the direction of a few reroutes the journey for all

The TTIP can annihilate any work undertaken so far in the European Union on chemicals safety, consumer protection, workers’ rights and climate change.

Lora Verheecke
27 October 2014
Anti-fracking protest spreads to Montreal, October 2013.

Anti-fracking protest spreads to Montreal, October 2013. Oscar Aguirre/Demotix. All rights reserved.While Eurocrats working on trade have just unpacked from their TTIP trip in Washington and are now writing their secret reports, their peers working on climate change are preparing their positions and bags for their COP20 trip to Lima. It is not only their cross-Atlantic flights that will run contrary routes; their mandates are in complete opposition. Unfortunately, it is the direction of a few corporate elites that will reroute the journey to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

October 11 was the Global Day of Action against the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, a trade agreement between the European Union and the United States (TTIP). The level of public opposition to the TTIP can be measured by the size of the European Union budget to promote it. While in 2012, the EU Directorate for Trade spent 2,285 Euros for journalists to meet the EU Trade Commissioner, in 2013, the amount increased tenfold to 25,000 Euros.

The TTIP can annihilate any work undertaken so far in the European Union on chemicals safety, consumer protection, workers’ rights and climate change.

Tackling climate change means reducing greenhouse gases emissions now and as fast as possible. It means planning a win-win transition, for the people and the planet.  But the regulations to make this transition possible are impossible under the TTIP.

Take Quebec and fracking. Methane emissions linked to fracked natural gas are at least 30 percent higher than the emissions linked to conventional gas. Regulating fracking does make climate sense.

Well, in June 2011, Quebec’s government imposed a moratorium on fracking. This was immediately challenged legally by the oil and gas company Lone Pine in special ISDS tribunals, the same tribunals the TTIP will give powers to. If Lone Pine wins this case, Canadian tax payers will pay Lone Pin Cdn$250 million in compensation, plus interest.

Whether Canada loses or wins this case, the Canadian tax payers will have to pay anyway. The average legal costs for a case in ISDS tribunals is around US$ 8 million, costs which can never be recovered.

Today, fracking is banned in France and Bulgaria. But what if Romania wanted to ban fracking? Under the TTIP, banning fracking could be costly to Romania. A company with plans to invest in fracking before the ban could sue the Romanian government, outside Romania, in a tribunal with private lawyers, to demand compensation from Romanian tax payers…

The TTIP is not only an attack on existing regulations; it is also a limit on future legislations. It is slamming the political door in the face of a genuine green and just transition.

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