Report Exposes How the TTIP Could Expand Fracking in U.S. and Europe
As the U.S. and European Union (EU) governments continue negotiating the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), environmental organizations are growing more concerned about a loophole that could leave the door open for expanded fracking in both regions.
According to a report released today from Friends of the Earth Europe, the Sierra Club, Corporate Europe Observatory and others, the pending TTIP contains language that could allow energy companies to take governments to private arbitrators if they try to regulate or ban fracking. Now, campaigners in Europe and the U.S. are fighting to eliminate such rights from the trade deal.
“Giving companies more rights as part of the EU-U.S. trade deal would undermine Europe’s growing resistance to fracking," said Antoine Simon of Friends of the Earth Europe. "Energy companies must not be given the power to challenge democratically agreed laws that safeguard the environment and citizen health.
"Put simply, this puts profits before people, democracy and the planet.”
The report, "No Fracking Way," states that the Investor-State Dispute Settlement clause would enable corporations to claim damages in secret courts or arbitration panels if they believe their profits are adversely affected by changes in a regulation or policy. Those companies could seek compensation through private international tribunals. U.S. firms or those with a subsidiary in the U.S. that invest in Europe could also use those rights to seek compensation for future bans or other regulation on fracking. The arbitrators are mainly set up for investment cases and not part of the normal judicial system, according to the report.
“Trade should help strengthen economies while protecting families and communities—it should never put them at risk," Ilana Solomon, director of the Sierra Club's responsible trade program, said. "The egregious Lone Pine lawsuit shows how investor-state dispute settlement threatens people and our environment by letting big corporations attack common-sense policies. We need protections from dangerous practices like fracking, and big oil and gas corporations shouldn’t use trade as the trump card to get their way.”
The report points out several other examples, including Swedish energy giant Vattenfall's request of the equivalent of nearly $5.1 billion from Germany to compensate for the country's voted to phase out nuclear power.
In the U.S., some individual cities and states are taking notice of the dangers of fracking. Last week, the Los Angeles City Council approved a moratorium on fracking within city limits. The decision made Los Angeles the nation's largest city to approve such a ruling.
Four days before that, groups in Colorado launched a ballot initiative that would essentially give residents control over fracking within their communities.
Visit EcoWatch’s FRACKING page for more related news on this topic.
- Redwoods are the world's tallest trees.
- Now scientists have discovered they are even bigger than we thought.
- Using laser technology they map the 80-meter giants.
- Trees are a key plank in the fight against climate change.
They are among the largest trees in the world, descendants of forests where dinosaurs roamed.
Pixabay / Simi Luft<p><span>Until recently, measuring these trees meant scaling their 80 meter high trunks with a tape measure. Now, a team of scientists from University College London and the University of Maryland uses advanced laser scanning, to create 3D maps and calculate the total mass.</span></p><p>The results are striking: suggesting the trees <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-020-73733-6" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">may be as much as 30% larger than earlier measurements suggested.</a> Part of that could be due to the additional trunks the Redwoods can grow as they age, <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-020-73733-6" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">a process known as reiteration</a>.</p>
New 3D measurements of large redwood trees for biomass and structure. Nature / UCL<p>Measuring the trees more accurately is important because carbon capture will probably play a key role in the battle against climate change. Forest <a href="https://www.wri.org/blog/2020/09/carbon-sequestration-natural-forest-regrowth" target="_blank">growth could absorb billions of tons</a> of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere each year.</p><p>"The importance of big trees is widely-recognised in terms of carbon storage, demographics and impact on their surrounding ecosystems," the authors wrote<a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-020-73733-6" target="_blank"> in the journal Nature</a>. "Unfortunately the importance of big trees is in direct proportion to the difficulty of measuring them."</p><p>Redwoods are so long lived because of their ability to <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-020-73733-6" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">cope with climate change, resist disease and even survive fire damage</a>, the scientists say. Almost a fifth of their volume may be bark, which helps protect them.</p>
Carbon Capture Champions<p><span>Earlier research by scientists at Humboldt University and the University of Washington found that </span><a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0378112716302584" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Redwood forests store almost 2,600 tonnes of carbon per hectare</a><span>, their bark alone containing more carbon than any other neighboring species.</span></p><p>While the importance of trees in fighting climate change is widely accepted, not all species enjoy the same protection as California's coastal Redwoods. In 2019 the world lost the equivalent of <a href="https://www.worldwildlife.org/threats/deforestation-and-forest-degradation" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">30 soccer fields of forest cover every minute</a>, due to agricultural expansion, logging and fires, according to The Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF).</p>
Pixabay<p>Although <a href="https://c402277.ssl.cf1.rackcdn.com/publications/1420/files/original/Deforestation_fronts_-_drivers_and_responses_in_a_changing_world_-_full_report_%281%29.pdf?1610810475" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">the rate of loss is reported to have slowed in recent years</a>, reforesting the world to help stem climate change is a massive task.</p><p><span>That's why the World Economic Forum launched the Trillion Trees Challenge (</span><a href="https://www.1t.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">1t.org</a><span>) and is engaging organizations and individuals across the globe through its </span><a href="https://uplink.weforum.org/uplink/s/uplink-issue/a002o00000vOf09AAC/trillion-trees" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Uplink innovation crowdsourcing platform</a><span> to support the project.</span></p><p>That's backed up by research led by ETH Zurich/Crowther Lab showing there's potential to restore tree coverage across 2.2 billion acres of degraded land.</p><p>"Forests are critical to the health of the planet," according to <a href="https://www.1t.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">1t.org</a>. "They sequester carbon, regulate global temperatures and freshwater flows, recharge groundwater, anchor fertile soil and act as flood barriers."</p><p><em data-redactor-tag="em" data-verified="redactor">Reposted with permission from the </em><span><em data-redactor-tag="em" data-verified="redactor"><a href="https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2021/03/redwoods-store-more-co2-and-are-more-enormous-than-we-thought/" target="_blank">World Economic Forum</a>.</em></span></p>
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