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19 May 2014
TTIP: a blueprint for climate catastrophe?
The Huffington Post has today revealed a draft EU negotiating text on energy provisions in TTIP, calling for the export of energy goods from the US, which have been defined as "coal, crude oil, oil products, natural gas, whether liquefied or not, and electrical energy.”
The Sierra Club and Power Shift have warned that such a provision in TTIP will result in more fracking in the US, an increased reliance on fossil fuels in the EU and more climate emissions across the board at a time when the scientific consensus says we need to do more to reduce, not increase, our consumption of fossil fuels globally.
The export of crude oil from the US has been banned since 1975, while there are a number of restrictions on exporting natural gas. However, according to the Huffington Post, ‘special licenses to exempt some crude oil exports from the ban’ can be signed by the president, while the Sierra Club warns that due to a clause in the U.S. Natural Gas Act, under free trade deals natural gas exports from the U.S. ‘must be automatically deemed in the public interest and automatically granted’.
The leak will raise alarm bells with climate activists in the US and EU as the world gears up to reach an agreement on climate action next year in Paris. There are worries that TTIP could lock both sides of the Atlantic into continued and intensified fossil fuel use, impeding the move to much needed renewable energy sources.
In a joint statement detailing their concerns, The Sierra Club and Power Shift have expressed their fear that TTIP may also restrict the ability of governments to set the terms of their own energy policy, as TTIP includes measures to prohibit ‘local content requirements’ also known as buy-local rules, including in renewable energy programs. Such requirements ‘have been a standard policy tool used by governments to foster, nurture, and grow new industries’ in the past:
‘It is critical that governments have every tool at their disposal to be able to develop, grow, and support renewable energy. Governments and communities must have the right to determine whether or not a local content requirement will increase the viability, success, and effectiveness of a renewable energy program. The TTIP must not close the door on such programs.’
It is generally understood that TTIP is also likely to serve as a blueprint for future trade negotiations, as combined, a US-EU free trade area will cover almost half the world’s GDP, and set the bar for what is and isn’t included in such partnership agreements. Provisions such as those laid out in the leaked draft may have ‘even broader implications for developing countries', we are told:
’Particularly during the early stages of countries’ development, it is critical that governments have the ability to nurture and grow domestic industries—including renewable energy industries—in order to cultivate a manufacturing base. History shows that governments need a range of policy tools, including local content requirements, to support such industries until they are internationally competitive.’
Roughly two thirds of known fossil fuel reserves must stay in the ground if we are to avoid climate catastrophe according to the IPCC, yet the EU draft text ‘does nothing to reconcile the incompatibility of existing trade rules with the need to use all available tools and measures to meet the challenge of climate change’.
Read the Huffington Post article.
Read the EU draft text on energy provisions.