On October 5, after more than 5 years of closed-door negotiations, the United States and 11 other Pacific Rim nations finally reached an agreement on the increasingly controversial and unpopular Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal. The Sierra Club and environmental partners across the country have worked tirelessly to expose the threats of this deal, which would empower some of the world's biggest polluters to challenge climate and environmental policies in private trade courts and expand trade in climate-disrupting fossil fuels. And, we're sorry to say, there is no evidence to support claims that the pact will help save endangered species like the elephant or rhino.
Over the last year, the United States Trade Representative (USTR), desperate to reach a deal, has glossed over these concerns and attempted to paint the deal as progressive and environmentally friendly. There have even been attempts to construe a few cherry-picked statements from a small number of conservation-focused organizations as environmental support for the pact. A headline from Zach Carter of The Huffington Post during the height of Obama's fight for fast track authority over the trade deal says it all: "White House Says Enviros Love This Trade Pact, But Enviros Say Otherwise."
Don't be fooled. During the fast-track fight, Steven Mufson of The Washington Post wrote an article headlined "Obama's environmental allies not buying his trade pitch on climate." And even now that a deal on the TPP has reportedly been reached, environmental and climate organizations are still lining up to warn about the threats of this toxic pact.
So in case you missed it, here is what some environmental organizations had to say about a deal on the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
Sierra Club executive director Michael Brune:
"The Trans-Pacific Partnership would empower big polluters to challenge climate and environmental safeguards in private trade courts and would expand trade in dangerous fossil fuels that would increase fracking and imperil our climate. The TPP's environment chapter might look nice on the surface but will be hollow on the inside, and history gives us no reason to believe that TPP rules on conservation challenges such as the illegal timber or wildlife trade will ever be enforced."
Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) International Program Director Jake Schmidt:
"A full assessment must await the fine print. Until then, our position remains unchanged: We've learned that such agreements could have grave impacts on our bedrock environmental laws and public health protections.''
350.org executive director May Boeve:
"TPP makes climate change worse. By handing even more power to Big Oil, letting massive corporations throw tantrum lawsuits at governments who dare to scale back emissions, and spreading fracking further around the world, there's no question that TPP is an absolute disaster for our climate. That's why so many people and organizations who care about climate change have repeatedly bashed this corporate giveaway; suggesting otherwise is nothing short of misleading cynicism. Decision-makers should know better than to try and distort our movement's position."
Greenpeace research specialist Charlie Cray:
"This is a cynical, last-minute sop intended to divide the environmental community, and doesn't change the fact that the TPP will likely do more harm than good. There are better ways to tackle environmental problems than this. There is no way green-looking window-dressing can make up for a secretly negotiated trade agreement that, by design, empowers multinationals to undermine environmental standards."
Friends of the Earth president Erich Pica:
"Conservation provisions in the TPP environment chapter are narrow and will not be enforced. The TPP as a whole is a frontal assault on environmental and climate safeguards. The TPP investment chapter would allow firms to sue governments for billions if climate or environmental rules interfere with corporate profits. The TPP would stymie effective regulation of chemicals and food safety. It would expand US fossil fuel exports across the Pacific."
Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy Climate Director Ben Lilliston:
"The TPP ignores climate change completely and this is a major setback," said IATP's Climate Director Ben Lilliston. "Past trade deals have driven an extractive mode of globalization that has led to mass deforestation, fossil fuel withdrawal and an energy-intensive industrial model of agriculture. Unfortunately, TPP is more of the same--an outdated, climate-damaging trade deal."
Center for Biological Diversity senior counsel Bill Snape:
"One of the most concerning black holes of the TPP is the interplay between science, public participation and toxics whereby multinationals such as Monsanto can make and trade pesticides or genetically modified seeds that kill wildlife, harm human health and threaten the entire food chain."
Oil Change International Executive Director Stephen Kretzmann:
"The secretive Trans-Pacific Partnership puts the interests of large corporations and investors above the interests of the American people. When we hand big polluters the key to undermine climate policies, environmental laws, and workers' rights, everybody loses."
Food & Water Watch Executive Director Wenonah Hauter:
"As we have warned all along, the TPP will undermine food safety and our ability to protect our air and water from dirty practices such as fracking. There is nothing in the news about the final TPP text that changes any of that. It remains clear: you cannot be pro-TPP and pro-environment."
SustainUs COP21 Delegation Leader Maria Langholz:
"The TPP is a huge step backward for the clean energy economy. It incentivizes new fossil fuel exploration and expands the power of corporations to challenge national climate policies, including those included in the COP21 Agreement. We urge Congress to reject this deal and work towards trade agreements that prioritize our communities and climate over corporations."
U.S. Climate Plan Executive Director Evan Weber:
"The TPP is likely to provide fossil fuel companies and other polluters new tools to avoid regulations and fight policies designed to protect our climate and our communities. Negotiated in secret by corporations and governments, with public oversight and input expressly prohibited, it's hard to imagine a scenario in which this corporate giveaway gets us any closer to preserving a livable planet for future generations."
Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL) President Carroll Muffett:
"For two decades, the United States and its trading partners have failed to effectively implement the environmental provisions in existing trade agreements. From NAFTA to the Peru FTA, the weakness hasn't been poor wording but lack of political will. Assuming that the environmental provisions of TPP will somehow fare better, when they are shepherded by the same agencies, and vocally opposed by many parties to the agreement, is a triumph of hope over experience. CIEL considers experience the better guide."
Green America Executive Co-Director Todd Larsen:
"The proposed agreement targets regulations aimed at protecting both people and planet, putting corporate profits over food safety and security. TPP will extend the corporate control of the worldwide food system by promoting biotechnology in the Pacific and furthering corporate intellectual property rights over nature. Local efforts to increase transparency in agricultural and regional food sourcing will be hindered, threatening efforts to build a more sustainable food landscape."
Institute for Policy Studies Climate Policy Program Director Janet Redman:
"Rushing to agreement on the TPP, despite huge public outcry, is a disgrace. Stopping the trade of illegally taken plants and wildlife is a noble cause, but in the case of the TPP, it's a dangerous distraction. The trade pact strengthens the ability of corporations to sue countries when they pass rules to protect rapidly disappearing wildlife and the places they live."
The Delaware Riverkeeper Network's Maya K. van Rossum:
"The Delaware Riverkeeper Network and local organizations across New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Delaware are staunchly opposed to the TPP. The TPP will ramp up the pressure for liquified natural gas exports, shale gas extraction, drilling, fracking and all of the pipelines that are devastating our communities, our environment, robbing communities and safe drinking water, and threatening our present and future generations with the extreme drought and floods inflicting so much harm on so many. The TPP will also strip our local, state, and regional governments of their legal authority through the inter state dispute resolution provision that can undermine and eviscerate critical environmental and community protections that have been put in place on behalf of communities."