"Outdated trade rules continue being used to attack climate programs at the federal and sub-federal levels," said an organizer with the Trade Justice Education Fund, which is pushing for a "Climate Peace Clause."
Amid key talks in Seattle, Washington, 234 U.S. environmental organizations on Tuesday pressured the Biden administration to work on ensuring that international trade deals don't thwart efforts to combat the global climate emergency.
Echoing previous letters from state legislators and national groups—including 350.org, Food & Water Watch, Greenpeace USA, Sierra Club, and Trade Justice Education Fund—the coalition wrote to U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai demanding a "Climate Peace Clause" in trade deals.
"As state and local organizations working to protect our climate and environment, we call on you and the Biden administration to please take decisive action to prevent climate policies in our states from being attacked and undermined via outdated trade agreements," the letter to Tai states, noting the U.S. commitment to the Paris agreement's 1.5°C temperature goal.
"Please work with other countries to secure a 'Climate Peace Clause': a commitment to refrain from using dispute settlement mechanisms in international trade agreements to challenge climate mitigation and/or clean energy transition measures."
The new letter highlights how countries and the European Union have threatened provisions of the Inflation Reduction Act—a law signed by President Joe Biden last year that is intended to support the renewable energy transition and includes electric vehicle credits. It also points out that the U.S. and India have gone after each other's solar efforts.
"Cases like these not only directly threaten climate policies, but could dissuade state legislatures from passing and governors from signing future climate policies," the letter stresses. "While we greatly appreciate your recent announcement that India and the U.S. will be dropping trade attacks on each other's renewable energy programs within the World Trade Organization (WTO), we still need a broader and longer-term solution to the ongoing conflict between outdated trade rules and the imperative for ambitious climate action."
"Therefore, we urge you to take additional action to help bring trade attacks on climate action and a liveable future to an immediate end," the document adds. "Specifically, we join with state legislators from all 50 states in asking that you and the administration please work with other countries to secure a 'Climate Peace Clause': a commitment to refrain from using dispute settlement mechanisms in international trade agreements to challenge climate mitigation and/or clean energy transition measures."
The coalition is calling on Tai's office "to pursue a Climate Peace Clause within the texts of pending bilateral and regional trade agreements such as the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework, the U.S.-E.U. Trade & Technology Council and the Americas Partnership for Economic Prosperity, as well as within other venues," like the Group of Seven.
Signatories to the letter include Conservation Alabama, Dallas Peace and Justice Center, Greater Boston Trade Justice, Hawaii Wildlife Fund, Kentucky Environmental Foundation, Mazaska Talks, New Mexico Climate Justice, Save Our Illinois Land, Washington Fair Trade Coalition, and WE ACT for Environmental Justice as well as several chapters of 350.org, Climate Reality Project, Extinction Rebellion, Indivisible, Our Revolution, Physicians for Social Responsibility, and Sierra Club.
"Outdated trade rules continue being used to attack climate programs at the federal and sub-federal levels," Trade Justice Education Fund climate organizer Clayton Tucker said Tuesday. "A moratorium on the use of trade agreements to challenge climate mitigation and clean energy transition policies would enable local, state, and national governments to safeguard existing climate measures and adopt the additional policies urgently needed to prevent the worst outcomes from climate change."
"We were glad when the administration recently announced a reciprocal agreement ending India's trade attacks again U.S. states' solar programs and vice versa," Tucker added. "Unfortunately, other clean energy initiatives in the U.S. and elsewhere are still being threatened and future climate policies remain at serious risk. A Climate Peace Clause would provide assurances that other climate programs won't be delayed or weakened by trade attacks moving forward."