U.S. Congress and President Obama Derelict for Not Considering Global Warming Effect of Proposed TPP Agreement
The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is a massive new international trade pact being pushed by the U.S. government at the behest of transnational corporations. The TPP is already being negotiated between the United States, Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, Vietnam, and most recently, Japan — which together cover approximately 40% of the global economy. But it is also specifically intended as a “docking agreement” that other Pacific Rim countries would join over time, with the Philippines, Thailand, Colombia and others already expressing interest. It is poised to become the largest Free Trade Agreement in the world.
Governments intending to sign on to TTP must take into consideration that international trade generates greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, not just from the production of traded goods, but perhaps more importantly from the fossil fuel burning required transport required between trading partners and their goods. Studies show that the greenhouse gas emissions generated by international transportation are substantial yet widely overlooked, both in regulations and in data collection efforts.
Those presently pushing for governmental support of the trading of products between the 27 countries listed in the TPP are derelict in not considering the added quantities of greenhouse gases that would be added to the global stockpile of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere as a result of implementing the TTP.
All who care about preserving Earth for future Earthlings like us should call their representatives in the U.S. Congress and strongly recommend they object to the fast tracking this Pact for President Obama’s signature.
Environmental groups slammed leaked text of the Trans-Pacific Partnership’s (TPP’s) draft environment chapter, published by Wikileaks on January 15, saying it is completely inadequate to protecting the planet’s oceans, forests or wildlife.
“If the environment chapter is finalized as written in this leaked document, President Obama’s environmental trade record would be worse that George W. Bush’s,” said Michael Brune, executive director of the Sierra Club.
“Environmental protections are only as effective as their enforcement provisions, and a trade agreement with week enforcement language will do little or nothing to protect our communities and wildlife,” said Peter Lehner, executive director of the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC).
The environment chapter leak follows a line of leaked texts revealing a bonanza of special rights for corporations proposed for the TPP.
In December 2013, HuffingtonPost published leaked documents revealing that the United States was bullying other nations into accepting some of the worst expansions of corporate power proposed in any international agreement. A heavily-redacted memo summarizing countries’ negotiating positions on a variety of TPP chapters heading into the December 7-to-10, 2013 Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) ministerial in Singapore showed that the U.S. was behind pushes for new powers for corporations in the investment chapter, financial services chapter, intellectual property chapter and others.
An earlier “cheat sheet”-style chart from prior to the November 2013 Salt Lake City Round of negotiations contained additional information about countries’ positions.
Leaked text of the TPP investment, intellectual property, regulatory coherence and drug formularies chapters, as well as annexes to the Technical Barriers to Trade chapter, first published by Citizens Trade Campaign in 2011 and 2012, had already revealed the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) pushing for a bevy of special rights for transnational corporations that would come at the expense of environmental protection, consumer safety and access to medicine.
An updated copy of the Intellectual Property chapter published by Wikileaks in November 2013 further helped to shine a light on this secretive pact.
Draft texts are said to exist for some 29 separate TPP chapters, but despite approximately four years of steady negotiations, none have ever been officially released for public scrutiny.
“Americans deserve the right to know what U.S. negotiators are proposing in our names,” said Arthur Stamoulis, executive director of Citizens Trade Campaign. ”In the absence of transparency on the part of our government, we have a responsibility to share what information we receive about the TPP with the public.”
In a matter of days, President Obama will launch his final push to pressure Congress to pass the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). It’s a secretive trade deal that has been called “NAFTA on steroids” – and for good reason.
During his last State of the Union address on January 12, President Obama will make his case for a “trade” deal that would eviscerate broad swaths of regulations that protect consumers, workers, the environment and the soundness of our financial system. And, it would set up a legal regime where corporate profits trump the policy priorities of sovereign governments.
With the text of the deal now public even some key Republicans who supported Fast Track authority for approving the TPP are now saying they cannot support the trade deal as it stands.1 That means the President currently does not have the votes to pass the TPP. We need to keep it that way and thwart any momentum toward passage of the TPP in this Congress.
We can jump start our campaign to stop this corporate power grab by making our voices heard as loudly as possible in advance of the State of the Union next week.
In November we finally got to see what’s inside the TPP – and it’s even worse than we thought. If Congress ratifies this agreement more, American jobs would be offshored. Internet freedom would be a joke. Developing countries would lose access to lifesaving medicines. Unsafe foods and products could pour into our country while we’re powerless to stop them. The deal includes countries notorious for severe violations of human rights, but the term “human rights” does not appear in the 5,600 pages of the TPP. And, that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
The administration’s spin about the TPP being the most progressive trade treaty ever is not based in reality. Don’t take our word for it. Here is what Doctors Without Borders said about the TPP:
The TPP is a bad deal for medicine: it’s bad for humanitarian medical treatment providers such as MSF [Medecins Sans Frontieres, Doctors Without Borders], and it’s bad for people who need access to affordable medicines around the world, including in the United States.
The TPP would also commit the world to burning oil in shipping, a disaster for the planet.
Tell Congress: Oppose the TPP.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren has also sounded the alarm about the TPP. She previously warned that trade deals like the TPP could provide an opportunity for “banks to get something done quietly out of sight that they could not accomplish in a public place with the cameras rolling and the lights on.”3
Indeed, the TPP includes provisions that would severely hamstring the ability of governments to stem the next banking crisis. Other provisions would allow multinational corporations to push back when governmental regulations cut into corporate profits by suing governments in foreign courts staffed by corporate lawyers.
While Congress cannot amend or filibuster the TPP, they do still have to vote yes or no on it. Already some Republicans have come out against this awful deal, so if we are able to confront the big money interests behind this treaty with an onslaught of grassroots opposition, we can win.
Announcing Creation of “Strawberry Fields Forever” Awards in Honor of John Lennon, Co-Founder of “The Beatles”
On the day of what would have been John Lennon’s 75th birthday (October 9th), I am announcing with this post the creation of “John Lennon Strawberry Fields Forever Awards” – to be given to individuals, political representatives, members of the mass media and government officials who best put John Lennon’s “Strawberry Fields Forever” song lyric “Living is easy with eyes closed…Misunderstanding all you see.” into practice.
2015 winners of the John Lennon Strawberry Fields Forever award are the following:
The Wisconsin Legislature, Governor Walker, and his administration – for again failing in 2015 to take up the threat of global warming and climate change on Wisconsin, its natural resources and Wisconsin’s current and future businesses, residents and visitors. While scientists with the state’s many colleges and universities, including the University of Wisconsin – Madison, all say there is ample evidence now that global warming and climate change are occurring, will be with us for the long term, and that the impacts on Wisconsin’s people, animals and businesses will be increasingly negative and irreversible, Wisconsin’s publicly elected officials in the legislative and executive branches of Wisconsin’s government have continued their practice of avoiding any discussion of climate change and what the state’s position ought be on it, despite ample evidence that changes to the climate now underway are human caused, linked to too much fossil fuel burning and deforestation (paving), which have led to unprecedented increases in the concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.
Governor Walker and his security personnel have contributed hundreds of thousands of additional greenhouse gases to the atmosphere in their countless plane trips around the U.S. and to foreign countries in his failed campaign for the Republican nomination for the U.S. presidency; and more hundreds of thousands of GHGs were undoubtedly emitted in his trade missions to Europe and China, to say nothing of the massive volumes of GHG emissions from trade with far away countries. (You may also want to read this that there is no mention of greenhouse gases in the trade pact President Obama is supporting (The TPP), that greenhouse gas emissions generated by international transportation are substantial yet widely overlooked by those pushing to “fast track” the 12 nation agreement by the Pacific Ocean boarding countries.)
The Legislature refused to take up the threat of global warming and climate change, despite numerous letters to newspaper editors from Wisconsin citizens and testimonies given at public hearings on the state budget on the importance of addressing climate change in Wisconsin. Instead, it has been advancing bills that provide: for more lenient campaign finance laws and a doubling of the amount of money that can be donated to political candidates; allowing blaze pink colors for deer hunters; overhauling Wisconsin’s Civil Service System.
The Legislature also failed at ensuring Wisconsin’s workforce is fairly paid for its labor, allowing countless residents to make no more than the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour. New census data released in September show nearly a quarter of a million Wisconsin children lived below the poverty line in 2014; 738,000 people in the state were living in poverty in 2014, 150,000 more than in 2007.
The poverty rate for people who identified as black or African-American was 37.7 percent in 2014 compared to 9.6 percent among white non-Hispanic Wisconsinites. The poverty rate for black children was 49.4 percent, four times the rate of non-Hispanic Wisconsin children in 2014.
Gaylord Nelson said “Some people who talk about the environment talk about it as though it involved only a question of clean air and clean water. The environment involves THE WHOLE BROAD SPECTRUM of man’s relationship to ALL other living creatures, INCLUDING OTHER HUMAN BEINGS. It involves the environment in its broadest and deepest sense. It involves THE ENVIRONMENT OF THE GHETTO, which is the WORST environment, where the worst pollution, the worst noise, the worst housing, the worst situation in this country — THAT HAS TO BE A CRITICAL PART OF OUR CONCERN and consideration in talking and cleaning up the environment” [Emphasis added].
Every member of the U.S. Congressional Delegation in Washington DC is awarded the John Lennon Strawberry Fields Forever award for being missing in action in 2015; as were previous congressional delegations the last two decades who have exhibited callousness on a grand level about the greatest threat for all earthlings for far too many years already. The mass media ought have held the Congresses’s “feet to the fire” to get legislative action taken by our government but no doubt that would not go over well with the automobile industry, who pays TV networks for the countless number of automobile advertisements broadcast to American households every week during NFL football games.
Wisconsin Public Radio is awarded a Strawberry Field award for continuing to sponsor its exotic trips to far away lands that require long distance air travel, done for the purpose of fundraising. Flying airplanes has been labeled as the worst single activity an individual can do as far as adding more greenhouse gases to the atmosphere, now linked with certainty to more rapid global warming and climate change. Public radio’s encouragement of atmosphere – damaging airline travel is the opposite of what it should be doing – encourage less fossil fuel burning by everyone.
The typical American consumer, who continues to burn excessive quantities of fossil fuels in transportation, heating, and using electricity derived from burning fossil fuels, and consumes far too many products requiring burning large quantities of fossil fuels, despite warnings of irreparable harm due to climate change from all credible scientists.
The failure of all media to issue needed public action alerts for the mounting accumulation of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, as they do for other weather and climate threats to people, animals and property, is inexcusable.
The awards go to individuals or groups who close their eyes and minds to the fact that global warming caused climate change and sea level rise is now a reality and is a growing threat to the safety and well-being of all people and animals living on Earth today, and is a much greater threat for future humans and animal lives who have yet to be born.
October 5, 2015
The final version of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) was just agreed upon at a big, multinational meeting in Atlanta, Georgia, attended by trade negotiators from the 12 Pacific Rim countries involved in the deal. The TPP, which is supported by President Barack Obama, and whose biggest players are the United States and Japan, has been in the works for about eight years. But its text has not been made available for public consumption, and still has to be put to a strictly yes-or-no vote in Congress before it can take effect.
No specific timeline for that vote exists, although according to The Washington Post, Obama legally he has to wait at least 90 days to sign the agreement now that he has notified Congress, and the text must be public for 60 of those days. That means the full text of the TPP might be shown to the public in early November.
As we’ve mentioned before, the TPP, like most international trade deals, is meant to enable free trade between member countries. With this particular agreement, Obama hopes to further the United States’ ability to set global standards for trade, rather than allow the agenda to be set by that other economic juggernaut of the Pacific, namely China.
The centerpiece of today’s announcement is the fact that the deal will knock out 18,000 tariffs, which is probably good news if you’re a consumer, and definitely good news if you’re a shipping magnate.
But a few provisions in leaked versions of the TPP have sparked outrage among the public. One such example is the concept of “investor-state dispute settlements,” which allow international companies to bring their grievances to legally-binding tribunals, which could potentially override laws in member countries. The TPP has also raised concerns about a possible overhaul of intellectual property law, as some fear an expansion of US laws restricting companies from manufacturing cheaper generic drugs will keep drug costs up worldwide.
While the newly agreed-upon draft remains shrouded in secrecy, the official summary released by the Obama administration this week does address the previous controversy about those two issues, albeit sort of vaguely.
In the case of intellectual property, the summary’s section on pharmaceuticals doesn’t exactly make it clear what will happen to drug profiteers like most-hated-man-in-America Martin Shkreli. The summary simply states that the agreement “contains pharmaceutical-related provisions that facilitate both the development of innovative, life-saving medicines and the availability of generic medicines.”
Presumably this availability of generics will be helped along by the elimination of “patent linkages,” a provision that scared Politico’s Michael Grunwald when it appeared in a previous leaked version of the TPP. Today, Grunwald tweeted that it sounds like these linkages were “stripped out” of the new version of the deal.
The US Trade Representative has also put up a page offering alternative talking points about investor-state dispute settlements (ISDS). In response to critics who claim the ISDS provision would allow international companies to undermine environmental and consumer safety laws in the US, the Trade Representative says the administration has been “upgrading” the agreement, presumably to avoid any such nightmare scenarios. The site also offers a few factoids for context: 51 trade agreements already have investor-state dispute settlements in place; “only” 13 ISDS cases have been brought against the US in the past; and so far, the US has always won.
The summary itself is light on details about ISDS, however. But there is a very specific line saying that the tribunals will need to go out the window if the dispute involves “a claim challenging a tobacco control measure of the Party.” In other words, a built-in exemption to TPP means that tobacco companies won’t be among the entities with the power to challenge laws in signatory countries.
For what it’s worth, North Carolina Republican Senator Thom Tillis is pretty upset about this provision aimed at the tobacco industry, writing in a statement Monday that, “the Obama Administration has decided to use the TPP as a laboratory for partisan politics by discriminating against specific agricultural commodities.”
In the wake of the TPP announcement, an anti-globalization group called “Flush the TPP” has issued a call to action, scheduling a protest to run from November 14-18 in Washington, DC. The group says protesters will be urging the government to stop making deals like these, and to come up with “alternative international agreements that put people and the planet first.”
By Mike Pearl, Staff Writer for VICE