'Worse than Bush': Green Groups Sound Alarm Over Obama's Trade Deal

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by
Common Dreams

'Worse than Bush': Green Groups Sound Alarm Over Obama's Trade Deal

Following leaked document of pending trade deal, green groups slam 'unacceptable' environmental chapter

by
Jacob Chamberlain, staff writer

The environment chapter of the upcoming Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal, which was leaked to the public Wednesday by WikiLeaks, is "unacceptable" and would render President Obama’s environmental trade record "worse than George W. Bush’s,” environmental groups warned in a joint analysis hours after the leak.

As WikiLeaks reported Wednesday morning, the draft environmental chapter as it now stands renders any potential environmental protections "toothless," as it lacks enforcement mechanisms between countries, such as penalties or criminal sanctions, and is largely "a public relations exercise."

According to the Sierra Club, The World Wildlife Foundation and the Natural Resources Defense Council, who together analyzed the document, the TPP's environmental regulations differ from previous U.S. trade agreements, which have included such "enforcement mechanisms."

"Instead of committing TPP countries to 'adopt, maintain, and implement' the laws, regulations, and all other measures to fulfill its obligations under [Multilateral Environmental Agreements] and subject those obligations to dispute settlement," the groups write in their joint analysis, "each TPP country is merely committed to 'affirm its commitment' to implement the MEAs to which it is a party."

"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."

Carter Roberts, President and CEO of World Wildlife Fund (WWF) noted:

This peek behind the curtain reveals the absence of an ambitious 21st-century trade agreement promised by negotiating countries. 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.

And Peter Lehner, executive director of the NRDC added:

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. 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."

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