Greenpeace: Obama sacrificing climate legacy for trade deal

President Obama may be sinking the very climate deal meant to be his top achievement in his last year in office in favor of trade concessions with Europe, the global environmental group Greenpeace says.

Greenpeace released a treasure trove of documents Sunday from negotiations taking place between European and U.S. negotiators to hash out a trans-Atlantic trade deal this year. The documents show that no assurances between the United States and European Union are included in the deal to take into consideration the climate deal agreed to by 196 countries in Paris last December.

“Hard won environmental progress is being bartered away behind closed doors,” said Faiza Oulahsen, campaigner for Greenpeace Netherlands, in releasing 248 pages of leaked documents. “These documents reveal that civil society was right to be concerned about [the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership] TTIP. We should stop the negotiations and start the debate.”

A primer on the documents released by Greenpeace says, “climate protection will be harder under TTIP.”

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“Trade should not be excluded from climate action,” Greenpeace says. “But nothing indicating climate protection can be found in the obtained texts,” the primer reads.

“Even worse, the scope for mitigation measures is limited by provisions of the chapters on Regulatory Cooperation or Market Access for Industrial Goods,” it adds. “As an example these proposals would rule out regulating the import of CO2 intensive fuels such as oil from Tar Sands,” like those produced in Canada, which formed the debate over approving the controversial Keystone XL pipeline.

The documents include chapter drafts of the final trade deal. Greenpeace said long-standing environmental rules seem to have been “dropped,” in addition to the climate change provisions.

None of the chapters make any reference a nearly 70-year-old rule codified under a World Trade Organization agreement, called the General Exception rule, the group says. The rule allows nations to regulate trade in a way that protects “human, animal and plant life or health,” as well as “the conservation of exhaustible natural resources,” the group explains. “The omission of this regulation suggests both sides are creating a regime that places profit ahead of human, animal and plant life and health.”

“Whether you care about environmental issues, animal welfare, labor rights or Internet privacy, you should be concerned about what is in these leaked documents,” said Oulahsen. “They underline the strong objections civil society and millions of people around the world have voiced: TTIP is about a huge transfer of democratic power from people to big business.”

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