On May 11th President Obama gave approval to Shell Oil to start drilling for oil in the Artic, off Alaska. Nine days later, he told the graduating class at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy “As America’s Maritime Guardian, you’ve pledged to remain always …ready for all threats. And climate change is one of those most severe threats.” If the President considers climate change such a “severe” threat, why is he pushing policies, and a rigged, international regulatory regime that would exasperate the problem?
This hypocrisy in this case is not just a moral failure; not leaving carbon in the ground will make climate change much worse, possibly leading to the desertification of the planet and the collapse of the Earth’s capacity to support large populations and civilizations. Bill McKibben, founder of the climate change campaign 350.org wrote, “If we’re to have any chance of meeting even Mr. Obama’s weak goal of holding temperature rise to 2 degrees Celsius, we have to leave most carbon underground.”
As bad as the approval to Shell was with respect to climate change, the President’s Trans-Pacific Partnership would exasperate climate change even more in a number of ways. The easiest example to understand this assertion is to recognize increased trade under the TPP will mean increased shipping, increased ships and increased burning of fossil fuels to power those ships. Perhaps one of the secret chapters of the TPP mandates all merchant ships be converted to hydrogen power by some future date, but that’s not likely. Corporate executives and lobbyists and our Wall Street trade representative, Michael Froman, are writing the regulations embedded in the TPP, not environmentalists.
It gets worse. Naomi Klein, author of This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs the Climate, wrote about how a NAFTA investor-state tribunal has already undermined sustainable energy development in Canada:
Because of Ontario’s attempts to build its local wind and solar industries, Canada was challenged for violating trade obligations—and soon, a core element of the province’s green energy plan was scrapped. The message was clear for governments everywhere: If you take robust steps to fight climate change that threaten multinational corporations, you’ll be challenged—and beaten—in unelected trade tribunals.
The TPP has such a regulatory tribunal outlined in the Investor State Dispute Settlement Chapter. These tribunals function as mafia-like justice, running a legalized protection racket. If a state acts to protect a clean energy industry or its citizens from hydro fracking poisons (for example), it (meaning tax-payers) will have to pay the foreign transnational corporation tens or hundreds of millions of dollars in lost profits if a foreign corporation wins a case against that state government in these corporate tribunals. This produces what’s called “regulatory chill,” making legislators reluctant to protect citizens or the public interest generally.
Ilana Solomon, director of the Sierra Club’s responsible trade program, wrote, “The TPP would expand the export of fossil fuels and pave the way to more fracking, and therefore more emissions. It’s a major deal because Japan is one of the countries in TPP and happens to be the biggest importer of natural gas.”
The reason Obama is pushing climate change enhancing policies and trade pacts has been previously explained: legalized corruption. Our system of politics is pay to play, and Obama owes the folks in the transnational, Wall Street corporations their agenda (maximum profits, no matter what the cost to the environment) in return for their contributions to his campaigns for the White House.
As corrupted as the American political system has become, the evil of corporate rule embedded in the TPP and other “trade agreements” under negotiation would make matters much worse, replacing bottom-up law-making (democratic self-government) with top-down, imposed regulations (international, corporate rule). This is a “When in the course of human events” type moment, a pivot point in American history.
Nobel Prize winning American economist, Joseph Stiglitz, wrote in “How Trade Agreements Amount to a Secret Corporate Takeover,” “The question is whether we should allow rich corporations to use provisions hidden in so-called trade agreements to dictate how we will live in the twenty-first century. I hope citizens in the US, Europe, and the Pacific answer with a resounding no.”
What you can do to help preserve self government:
- call Congress and speak with your Senators’ and Representative’s staffers. The number is: (202) 224-3121. Call early and often, and tell them to vote “no” for fast-track authority and “no” on the TPP,
- attend a Town Hall meeting with your congressman and bring up the issue,
- share this article with your friends, relatives and everyone you know in emails and on social media,
- organize to make your town, city or county a TPP-Free Zone.
There is no higher priority, no greater issue, than stopping the unconstitutional “fast-track authority,” which would grease the skids for these un-American, rigged regulatory regimes, in the coming weeks. Only you can prevent climate change exacerbating, corporate rule.