After years of meetings, months of Congressional debates, and days of around-the-clock negotiations, the United States and 11 other countries reached an agreement on the Trans-Pacific Trade agreement (TPP) on Monday.
If adopted, the TPP will eliminate or reduce tariffs between Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the United States, and Vietnam. But while it specifically addresses some environmental concerns — such as trade of illegally harvested resources or wildlife trafficking — climate change activists saw Monday’s announcement as the culmination of a long-watched train wreck.
“It’s still the same disaster for climate change it was three months ago,” 350.org’s Karthik Ganapathy told ThinkProgress.
His organization, as well as many others, say the TPP protects multinational corporations that profit from fossil fuels. Some have argued that under the TPP — as with the North American Free Trade Agreement — companies will be able to sue countries that enact laws to limit fossil fuel extraction or carbon emissions, if it interferes with profits. The deal also will lead to the rubber-stamping of export facilities for natural gas from fracking and will prevent the U.S. Trade Representative from ever including climate change action in trade deals, Ganapathy said.
But the White House has touted the deal’s potential for environmental conservation, calling it a “once-in-a-generation chance to protect our oceans, wildlife, and the environment.”
Environmentalists aren’t buying it.
“The White House seems intent on telling everyone environmentalists like this deal, but the truth is by handing even more power to Big Oil, letting massive corporations throw tantrum lawsuits at governments who dare to scale back emissions, and prolonging our reliance on fracked gas, there’s no question that the Transpacific Partnership is an absolute disaster for our climate,” Ganapathy said in an email.
Other environmentalists, including Naomi Klein, author of This Changes Everything, took to Twitter to register their outrage, especially after the World Wildlife Fund praised the deal to the New York Times.