This blogpost was first published by the European Voice on 21 May 2014.Rarely have trade negotiations attracted as much attention and criticism as the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) has over the last year. There has been no spontaneous ‘boom’ in anti-trade sentiments. Rather, this criticism is due to the overreach being attempted here. With TTIP, the EU is trying something new that goes beyond the classic lowering of tariffs – which incidentally are already low in transatlantic trade.
Without action, global CO2 emissions from transport are projected to double by 2050, the latest UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report has concluded. But ‘aggressive and sustained’ measures, including fuel carbon and energy intensity improvements, as well as infrastructure development can change the trendline and lead to a CO2 reduction of 15-40% instead.
The latest United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report published today alerts global leaders to the growing threat of uncontrolled transport emissions. The UN's climate panel says that transport is set to become the world’s biggest source of CO2 emissions unless lawmakers take strong action now. The report states: “Without aggressive and sustained policies (to cut CO2 from cars and trucks), transport emissions could increase at a faster rate than emissions from any other sector.”
2013 will – again – not go down in the history books as the year that Europe really got serious about tackling transport’s many environmental issues. On the headline level we actually see quite the contrary: the political focus is more on saving existing jobs than creating new ones, and the ‘climate and energy’ discussion is skewed more towards energy than climate than ever before.Geopolitically, Europe is moving towards North America and wants to conclude far-reaching free trade agreements with Canada and the US. There may be many good reasons for this, but we can only hope that a desire to emulate the North American model – relying on cheap and dirty fossil energy – is not one of them.
Global headlines are being dominated by events in Crimea, and how the West is dealing or ought to deal with it. All this geopolitics seems of terribly remote interest for the issues that concern us, humble environmentalists. But is it?
As the delay on the proposal to implement the Fuel Quality Directive reaches 1,186 days, there is growing evidence that tar sands mining and drilling operations, pipelines, and refineries are exposing local communities to serious health risks and problems.
EU heads of government have postponed a decision on cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. The EU climate change commissioner put a positive spin on the delay, but disappointed environmental groups were scathing in their criticism.
Today’s long overdue announcement of a public consultation on investor-state dispute settlement in the EU-US free trade negotiations (dubbed the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership – TTIP) is welcomed but does not change the principle that arbitration should never judge the validity of laws, environmental groups European Environmental Bureau and Transport & Environment have said.
The EU trade commissioner Karel de Gucht has ordered a public consultation on a legal clause in the emerging EU-US trade agreement that campaigners say could undermine environmental and consumer protection. The legal provision, known as ‘investor-state dispute settlement’, would give companies the right to take legal action against governments if they feel their investment potential or profits are being hindered by regulatory or policy changes at national level. What’s more, such disputes would be judged by special panels made up of people acceptable to business interests, and bypass national laws.