The Government will sign away the power to do what’s needed to prevent climate change and protect the environment when it signs the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA), the Green Party said today.
A new expert environmental analysis of the TPPA by Simon Terry, Executive Director of the Sustainability Council of New Zealand, finds that ‘the environment is a casualty’ under the TPPA, because governments can be sued by multinational corporations for environmental regulations such as changes to the Emissions Trading Scheme and limiting fossil fuel exploration.
“The TPPA does little to protect the environment and a lot that will hurt it,” Green Party trade spokesperson Kennedy Graham said.
“The whole point of the TPPA is to promote the interests of foreign investors, so when their interests clash with what’s best for the environment it’s pretty clear that the investors will come out on top.
“The TPPA locks in the ability for polluting companies from overseas to sue the New Zealand Government for regulating to reduce pollution, and the expert analysis shows that the so-called exception for environmental regulation is clearly inadequate.
“The fact that New Zealand can be sued will make future governments think twice before doing anything that could aggravate multinational corporations.
“It’s bad enough that the words ‘climate change’ disappeared from the TPPA sometime between the draft text and the final text, now it’s clear that the TPPA will actually make it harder to prevent climate change.”
The expert analysis is also critical of other environmental issues covered by the TPPA and lists changes to water management rules, logging rules, pesticide regulation, genetic modification, and biodiversity protection as areas that will be constrained.
“The environmental clauses don’t go far enough, have too many loopholes, and don’t have strong enough enforcement mechanisms to keep other countries in line,” Dr Graham said.
“Enforcement of the TPPA’s environmental provisions will rely on goodwill by governments who will have to expend their own resources to chase up their trading partners. I hope New Zealand does exactly that, but there’s no incentive to.
“For example, the TPPA is weak when it comes to legally enforceable prohibitions on trade in wildlife and illegally logged timber.
“While it’s good to see that the TPPA ends subsidies that cause over-fishing, it doesn’t go far enough to combat rampant illegal fishing, shark-finning, and whaling by ships from TPPA countries.
“The expert analysis shows how the TPPA will put strong pressure on countries like New Zealand to accept American genetically modified (GM) products and relax GM restrictions but I think most New Zealanders would agree that New Zealand should have the right to sets our own rules about GM within our borders,” said Dr Graham.