It’s a fatal combination – In the EU Referendum campaign there has been little discussion of climate change or the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), the massive trade deal that is being negotiated in secret by the EU and the US. Yet these issues, taken together, have the power to wreck our future and destroy our planet, and this will happen if we do not act quickly and decisively. The International Energy Agency warns that if we do not get our emissions under control by 2017, our fossil fuel economy will “lockGin” extremely dangerous global warming. Already we have seen widespread flooding in the UK, but this is nothing compared to the catastrophic climate change that our children may face in 30 or 40 years time. What does this have to do with TTIP?
Like other free trade agreements, TTIP contains measures which enable multinational companies to sue governments whose policies limit their future profits. How can governments seek to control carbon emissions by regulating, taxing and penalising companies which produce or make heavy use of fossil fuels, if this inevitably triggers thousands of huge compensation claims? (A free trade agreement has been used to challenge a fracking ban in Quebec, and this could happen here if TTIP is agreed).
TTIP will also enable multinational corporations to bid for our public services. Further privatisation will make it harder for governments to promote renewable energy and to expand lowGcarbon transport to get us out of planes and cars. Yet, a British poll in November 2013 found two thirds of “voters of all politics united in their support for nationalisation of energy and rail.” Worse still, TTIP will undermine safety regulations which protect the environment e.g. the EU’s Fuel Quality Directive which aims to reduce the climate impact of high carbon oil and the EU’s regulations on hazardous chemicals, including pesticides which have been found to kill off bees and birds (a ban that has been partially overturned by our government).
Will defeating TTIP stop climate change?
No, already there is so much carbon in the atmosphere that we are bound to have more severe storms and floods, but saying no to the multinationals will help us to avoid catastrophic climate change. The good news is that we can seize this existential threat to transform our failed economic system and build a happier, more equal society.
Is our economy at war with the climate?
Yes! As Naomi Klein states in her book, This Changes Everything (p19), the aim of the corporate globalisation process, which took off in 1988, was always to “lock in a global policy framework that provided maximum freedom to multinational companies to produce their goods as cheaply as possible and sell them with as few regulations as possible – while paying as little in taxes as possible.”
Deregulated capitalism and fossil fuels have enabled multinational corporations to plunder the finite natural resources of the planet, wrecking the environment especially in Third World countries and creating a throwaway culture based on the overGproduction and consumption of cheap goods right across the world. This is not making us happy! The dire consequences of rampant consumerism are revealed in http://www.storyofstuff.com
We cannot change the laws of nature but we can change our economy and we need to start now. To compensate for 20 years of political stalling, developed countries should aim for cuts in emissions of 8 – 10% a year.
How can we protect our children’s future?
- Consume less and buy things that last (a return to the level of consumption common in the 1970s would make a big difference);
- Buy less plastic;
- Make limited use of cars and planes;
- Eat food that is produced locally;
- Encourage a sense of community in your local area;
- Share this infrmationwith other people and protest loudly about TTIP;
- Watch Naomi Klein’s documentary, This Changes Everything;
- Take every opportunity to discuss these issues publicly;
- Support organisations that are campaigning about TTIP and/or climate change (38 Degrees; War on Want; Global Justice Now; Greenpeace; Friends of the Earth);
- Ask your MP to contact Amber Rudd, the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, asking her to explain how her department plans to achieve the substantial cut in emissions needed by 2017;
- Explore possibilities for generating renewable energy in your local area;
- Demand subsidies for ‘green energy’ and the creation of ‘green energy’ jobs;
- Remember the advice of Pope Francis:
“Concern for the environment needs to be joined to a sincere love for our fellow human beings and an unwavering commitment to resolving the problems of society.”