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Friday 4th
posted by Ben Chacko in Britain

Corporate-friendly treaties will scupper any plans to reduce climate change, say campaigners

TRADE deals being pursued by Britain, the EU and the US will torpedo the Paris climate accord, campaigners warn as it comes into force today.

The agreement — hailed by then French foreign minister Laurent Fabius as a “historic turning point” when signed amid fanfare last December — will count for little when compared to corporate-friendly treaties such as TTIP, Ceta and Tisa, which tie governments’ hands when it comes to tackling climate change, activists at War on Want and Global Justice Now charge.

Global Justice Now trade researcher Jean Blaylock told the Morning Star that while Paris was spun as an “action summit,” the real priorities of richer countries were elsewhere.

“Governments are pushing through highly risky trade deals, against huge democratic opposition, that lock in an unsustainable ‘free-market’ approach that will make it much harder for real action on climate to be taken,” she said.

Previously leaked documents from the Trade in Services Agreement (Tisa) call on states to ban “market distortion” and “anti-competitive conduct” in energy services, which would prevent governments subsidising clean or renewable energy or slapping tariffs on highly polluting fuels.

And deregulation demands in the text of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) would remove restrictions on the US exporting tar sands crude oil to Europe.

TTIP and Ceta both contain “investor-state dispute settlement” clauses which would empower private courts to sue governments where legislation affects their profits — though such clauses have been used elsewhere to stop action to protect the environment.

“Any attempt to cut carbon emissions and halt runaway climate change is seriously scuppered when big business is busy rewriting the rules of trade,” War on Want’s Ross Hemingway said.

“The Paris agreement means little when corporations are given licence make huge profits at the expense of people and planet.

“These global trade treaties have devastating implications for the lives of millions of people in the Global South.”

The United Nations Environment Programme warned yesterday that “urgent and dramatic” further steps were needed if greenhouse gas emissions are to be cut enough to limit “dangerous” climate change.

The Paris agreement — signed by 192 of the 197 parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, including the British government — commits signatories to hold the increase in global average temperatures to below 2ºC above pre-industrial levels, and ideally below 1.5ºC.

But scientists say unless much swifter reductions are made, emissions will exceed the limit needed to keep warming lower than that figure by 2030.

The world is on track for rises of between 2.9ºC and 3.4ºC, which would result in rapidly rising sea levels, an increase in extreme weather events such as floods and typhoons and longer and more severe droughts with devastating consequences for agriculture.