Killing Paris Accord Against Climate Change
“248 pages of leaked Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) negotiating texts” show that the American negotiating position, as Greenpeace put the matter, allows “No place for climate protection in TTIP,” and, though “We have known that the EU position was bad, now we see the US position is even worse.”
Jorgo Riss, Director of Greenpeace EU, said, “The effects of TTIP would be initially subtle but ultimately devastating. It would lead to European laws being judged … disregarding environmental protection and public health concerns.”
A 70-year-old EU rule, which allows nations to restrict trade in order “to protect human, animal and plant life or health,” or for “the conservation of exhaustible natural resources,” would end, if U.S. President Barack Obama gets what he wants.
Furthermore, the “Precautionary principle is forgotten”: it’s currently enshrined in the EU Treaty, but Obama wants it gone; it is stated in the EU Treaty as allowing “rapid response in the face of a possible danger to human, animal or plant health, or to protect the environment. In particular, where scientific data do not permit a complete evaluation of the risk, recourse to this principle may, for example, be used to stop distribution or order withdrawal from the market of products likely to be hazardous.” Obama wants there to be no ability for EU nations to withdraw from the market “products likely to be hazardous.” All products would be assumed safe, unless proven not to be.
Other TTIP developments in recent days:
Britain’s Independent headlined on April 29th, “TTIP could cause an NHS sell-off and UK Parliament would be powerless to stop it, says leading union”, and reported that a labor union, “Unite,” was determined to block TTIP from going into effect in the UK: “Gail Cartmail, Unite assistant general secretary, said that it was ‘a scandal’ that MPs [Members of Parliament] may not have the democratic power to stop TTIP, which she said ‘threatens the irreversible sell-off of our NHS [National Health Service]’.” Privatization of government assets is favorably viewed by Obama.
Tamara Hervey, a professor of EU law at the University of Sheffield, told the Independent, “The UK government could include a reservation in the agreement to say that it does not include the NHS. As far as I understand, that isn’t on the table, even though several other EU countries have already put such reservations in the negotiating text.” British Prime Minister David Cameron, like Obama, is strongly in favor of privatization.
The Independent said, “Obama used a recent visit to the EU to push for the completion of TTIP, promising it would remove ‘regulatory and bureaucratic irritants and blockages to trade’.” Now, we know that in his mind the EU’s existing regulations concerning environmental protection and product safety belong in that category: “bureaucratic irritants and blockages to trade.”
Britain’s Guardian banners on May 1st, “Leaked TTIP Documents Cast Doubt on EU-US Trade Deal”, and Arthur Nelson in Brussels, reports that, “Because of a European ban on animal testing, ‘the EU and US approaches remain irreconcilable and EU market access problems will therefore remain’,” which is yet further indication of Obama’s free-market convictions: he doesn’t accept any ban on animal-testing of products. Presumably, he wants to allow corporations to determine what the cheapest way to determine a product’s safety or dangerousness is, regardless of whether the animal model that’s used tells anything reliable about the product’s safety on humans. If one nation’s testing procedure is less reliable than another’s, then Obama wants the two to compete as equals, so that the incentive will exist for all corporations to use the cheapest method, regardless of the method’s reliability, or even humaneness. Obama didn’t run for President as a libertarian, but he turns out to be remarkably libertarian in his policies. He’s pushing for a vigorous race to the bottom, in all sorts of regulations.
Polls show Obama to have extremely high approval-ratings in European countries, such as 62% in Germany (far higher than any German national politician). Polls also show TTIP to be extremely unpopular there. The contradiction apparently isn’t noticed by respondents — approval of a politician has no clear correlation with the politician’s policies. Obama is black, and he speaks well; and, perhaps that’s enough. Perhaps Europeans don’t really care very much about such things as global warming, product-safety, or humaneness toward animals. If that’s true, then EU Parliamentarians can likewise ignore such matters and simply vote to approve TTIP, notwithstanding the merely nominal opposition to it amongst the electorate. The percentage of voters who really care about such issues might actually be inconsequential. If that’s the situation, then corruption makes sense, because the money that a politician thereby obtains for his/her campaign will far outbalance the potential loss of voters’ support that results from violating their interests — only words will matter, a politician’s actual record won’t, in terms of the given politician’s support by voters. If that’s true, then the results of democracy might be no better than the results of dictatorship; there might be no real difference.
Certainly, the disabling of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change would have enormous impact; but, if a politician’s rhetoric has a bigger effect on his favorability-rating than his policies do, Obama might be highly regarded even when the planet is burning up as a consequence of his policies.
Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010, and of CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity.