Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Help Support EcoWatch

Leaked Document Reveals Alarming New Environmental Threats of TTIP

Popular
Leaked Document Reveals Alarming New Environmental Threats of TTIP

This morning, as the most recent round of trade negotiations between the U.S. and European Union (EU) began in Brussels, the Guardian reported a leaked document from the EU that reveals its intentions to include new, dangerous language in the proposed energy chapter of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP).

Greensefa / Wikimedia

A Sierra Club analysis of the leaked TTIP proposal finds that it would:

• Require the U.S. and the EU "to eliminate all existing restrictions on the export of natural gas in trade between" the two parties;

• Undermine clean energy policies, such as renewable portfolio standards or feed-in tariffs, by stating that electricity utilities in the U.S. and the EU shall not discriminate "between types of energy" in granting access to the electrical grid;

• Obligate the U.S. and the EU to "foster industry self-regulation" on energy efficiency rather than using mandatory requirements that oblige corporations to boost the energy efficiency of their products; and

• Threaten protections against destructive extraction of fossil fuels and natural resources in countries outside of the U.S. and EU.

"This leaked document goes farther than any past leaked or publicly available TTIP document on energy to reveal the threat that the deal poses to our efforts to protect our climate by fully transitioning to clean energy," Ilana Solomon, director of the Sierra Club's Responsible Trade Program, said.

"For example, never before have we seen a more explicit and sweeping assertion that all gas export restrictions in the United States should be wiped out under TTIP—a nightmare that would be a giant leap backward in our fight to keep fossil fuels in the ground. This leak, along with the similarly toxic Trans-Pacific Partnership, shows the immediate need for a new model of trade that protects working families, healthy communities and our climate."

The leaked document, is the EU's proposal for a Chapter on Energy and Raw Materials, sent from the European Commission to the Trade Policy Committee of the European Council on June 20. A cover note states that the textual proposal "is to be submitted to the United States in advance of the next negotiation round," which began today. The Sierra Club's analysis on key aspects of today's leak can be found here. This is the latest in a string of uncovered TTIP documents. Other leaked TTIP energy proposals include a September 2013 leaked document and a May 2014 leaked document.

The leaked TTIP proposal would:

Require unfettered gas exports

The EU uses a note in the leaked text to state that TTIP "must" include "a legally binding commitment to eliminate all existing restrictions on the export of natural gas in trade between" the U.S. and EU (see initial "disclaimer.") This sweeping TTIP obligation would "eliminate," the ability of the U.S. Department of Energy to determine whether it is in the public interest to export liquefied natural gas (LNG)—a fossil fuel with high climate emissions—to the EU, the world's third-largest LNG importer. If included, this TTIP rule would facilitate increased LNG exports, greater dependency on a climate-disrupting fossil fuel, more fracking and expanded fossil fuel infrastructure.

• Undermine clean energy policies

The leaked TTIP proposal could undermine U.S. and EU policies that encourage clean energy production, such as renewable portfolio standards that require utilities to increase electricity from renewable sources or feed-in tariffs that give wind and solar power producers preferential access to the electrical grid. The EU's TTIP proposal includes a new provision stating that electricity utilities in the U.S. and EU shall not discriminate "between types of energy" in granting access to the electrical grid, even though that is the very purpose of such U.S. and EU policies that require utilities to favor clean energy over electricity from dirty fossil fuels. The leaked text only allows "limited" exceptions to this rule. To qualify for such an exception, a government could have to prove to a TTIP tribunal that its clean energy policy was "necessary," "objective" and "legitimate"—hurdles that public interest policies have failed to meet in past trade challenges (see Chapter on Energy and Raw Materials, Article 4.)

• Obligating the U.S. and the EU to "foster industry self-regulation" on energy efficiency

Another new EU proposal for TTIP states that the U.S. and EU "shall foster industry self-regulation of energy efficiency requirements" rather than using "mandatory requirements" that oblige corporations to boost the energy efficiency of their products (see Chapter on Energy and Raw Materials, Article 6.2.) The text prescribes this "self-regulating" approach when it "is likely to deliver the policy objectives faster or in a less costly manner" than actually requiring corporations to comply with energy efficiency policies. This provision could threaten the minimum efficiency requirements that the U.S. Department of Energy imposes through its Appliance and Equipment Standards Program on more than 60 types of appliances and equipment, from refrigerators to furnaces, which save consumers billions of dollars while cutting hundreds of millions of tons of climate pollution each year.

• Undermine protections against destructive extraction

The proposed TTIP text includes a new provision that would encourage the U.S. and the EU to jointly pressure countries around the world to abandon protections against destructive extractive activities. The provision states that the U.S. and EU "shall cooperate" to "reduce or eliminate trade and investment distorting measures in third countries affecting energy and raw materials" (see Chapter on Energy and Raw Materials, Article 8). That is, the U.S. and EU must try to reduce or eliminate environmental policies in non-TTIP countries if they inhibit trade or investment in fossil fuels like oil, coal and gas; natural resources like wood; and minerals like copper and lead (all of which are included in the text's definitions of "energy" and "raw materials"—see Chapter on Energy and Raw Materials, Annex I). Such TTIP-required pressure from the U.S. and EU would threaten many countries' protections against fossil fuel extraction, logging and mining. This dangerous TTIP proposal undercuts the text's weak proposal for the U.S. and EU to cooperate to "promote" positive goals such as "corporate social responsibility," "the efficient use of resources" and "safety and environmental protection for offshore oil, gas and mining operations" (see Chapter on Energy and Raw Materials, Article 8).

• Read the Sierra Club's report on how TTIP and TPP investment rules would empower major polluters to challenge U.S. climate protections in private tribunals here: sc.org/climate-roadblocks


A meteorologist monitors weather in NOAA's Center for Weather and Climate Prediction on July 2, 2013 in Riverdale, Maryland. Mark Wilson / Getty Images

The Trump White House is now set to appoint two climate deniers to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in one month.

Read More Show Less

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

A plastic bag caught in a tree in New Jersey's Palisades Park. James Leynse / Stone / Getty Images

New Jersey is one step closer to passing what environmental advocates say is the strongest anti-plastic legislation in the nation.

Read More Show Less

Trending

Did you know that nearly 30% of adults do, or will, suffer from a sleep condition at some point in their life? Anyone who has experienced disruptions in their sleep is familiar with the havoc that it can wreak on your body and mind. Lack of sleep, for one, can lead to anxiety and lethargy in the short-term. In the long-term, sleep deprivation can lead to obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.

Fortunately, there are proven natural supplements that can reduce insomnia and improve quality sleep for the better. CBD oil, in particular, has been scientifically proven to promote relaxing and fulfilling sleep. Best of all, CBD is non-addictive, widely available, and affordable for just about everyone to enjoy. For these very reasons, we have put together a comprehensive guide on the best CBD oil for sleep. Our goal is to provide objective, transparent information about CBD products so you are an informed buyer.

Read More Show Less
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) talks to reporters during her weekly news conference at the U.S. Capitol Visitors Center on Sept. 18, 2020 in Washington, DC. Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

The House of Representatives passed a sweeping bill to boost clean energy while phasing out the use of coolants in air conditioners and refrigerators that are known pollutants and contribute to the climate crisis, as the AP reported.

Read More Show Less
Gov. Jay Inslee of Washington comforts Marsha Maus, 75, whose home was destroyed during California's deadly 2018 wildfires, on March 11, 2019 in Agoura Hills, California. Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times / Getty Images

By Governor Jay Inslee

Climate Week this year coincides with clear skies in Washington state for the first time in almost two weeks.

In just a few days in early September, Washington state saw enough acres burned – more than 600,000 – to reach our second-worst fire season on record. Our worst fire season came only five years ago. Wildfires aren't new to the west, but their scope and danger today is unlike anything firefighters have seen. People up and down the West Coast – young and old, in rural areas and in cities – were choking on smoke for days on end, trapped in their homes.

Fires like these are becoming the norm, not the exception.

Read More Show Less

Support Ecowatch