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Saving the climate means stopping TTIP!

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Mediapart | 7 December 2014

Freely translated by Anoosha Boralessa (May 2015).

Saving the climate means stopping TTIP!

Amelie Canonne

(This article is largely inspired by the note, “The climate or TTIP - One has to choose!” published by France Attac and Aitec and co-authored with Maxime Combes.)

How the transatlantic free trade agreements cheerfully scupper energy transition….

Hundreds of negotiators are exchanging views at the UN Conference in Lima (which began on Monday morning) to pen the foundations of an ambitious global agreement. In the meantime, the heads of European and US diplomacy met yesterday at Brussels for a joint US/EU Council on “Energy”. If reliance is placed on the Euroactiv website, the EU has made its priorities known: its High Representative, Frederica Mogherini, has reaffirmed to John Kerry, the Secretary of State, the community’s ambition to include an “Energy Chapter” in the future transatlantic free trade agreement.

The stake: under the pretext of ensuring “energy security” and a supply of fossil fuels, now jeopardized by the crisis in Ukraine and the row with Russia, the European Union is using TTIP to try to liberalize transatlantic trade and investment in energy and raw materials. The latter are subject to restrictions in the US.

The member states entrusted the mandate for negotiating [1] TTIP to the European Commission. This mandate, which makes no mention of climate matters, was crystal clear: where energy is concerned, the Commission had to,

“ensure an open, transparent and predictable trade environment and to guarantee unlimited and sustainable access to raw materials.”

The documents leaked to the US press in May and July last year [2] confirmed this. So, too, did a series of provisions that speak of facilitating investment and granting licenses for prospecting, exploring and producing hydrocarbons to foreign enterprises on both sides of the Atlantic.

The EU has never shirked from schizophrenia and incoherence. And if EU expectations regarding the USA were accepted, the North American oil and gas industry would be encouraged to extend the border of oil extraction stemming from tar sands in Northeast Canada and the use of hydraulic fracturation to increase hydrocarbon production from shale. That is, two sources of hydrocarbons that are among the most polluting and most devastating for the environment and neighboring populations known on the planet. To transport this gas and oil from the other coast of the Atlantic would require huge investments – several hundred billion dollars – to construct new pipelines, refineries and factories on both sides of the Atlantic.

Shale gas is a far cry from promised energy transition. The European and US policy makers are entrenched behind the argument that shale gas would release less greenhouse gas than oil or coal when it is burnt. However this argument cannot be accepted for three reasons. But some studies [3] show that the complete cycle for production of shale gas – from extraction to combustion – would potentially release more greenhouse gas than carbon – especially if it is meant for export which demands liquefaction (for transport) and then carbonization. Regarding climate demands that have been forcefully recalled by the GIEC and when the EU affirms that it is ready to fight against climate change, is it really acceptable that it concedes to substituting one fossil fuel for another?

Besides, TTIP and CETA have totally sabotaged the fight against climate change. Effectively, trade negotiations facilitate totally secret negotiations that aim at undoing the European regulations that govern and/or reduce the importation and consumption of fossil fuels. Some days after the conclusion of the EU/Canadian agreement last August, the European Union renounced [4] specifically penalizing businesses that manufacture, market and/or use Canadian oil through its fuel quality Directive. The timing was no coincidence. On the contrary - to obtain this result, Stephen Harper, the Canadian Prime Minister, an ally of oil multinationals, escalated diplomatic pressure on European policy makers for months [5]. The EU and France are deliberately encouraging Canada in its deplorable logic while Ottawa has already announced its exit from the Kyoto Protocol and renounced reaching its objectives on emission reduction.

Is the prospect of liberalizing EU/US fossil fuel trade really compatible with the targets of reducing consumption of fossil fuels by 30% from now till 2030 and dividing by a quarter GHG emissions from now till 2050 as provided by article one of the draft law on energy transition voted in Autumn 2014 ?

If François Holland is really convinced that humanity’s fate is jeopardized by global warming, as he has recently affirmed on several occasions, France could begin by stipulating that any new agreement for liberalizing trade and investment respect the climate responsibilities of countries that produce the most emissions and that are the biggest polluters. Then France’s statements at Lima and at Brussels would be in total harmony.

 source: Mediapart