Tomorrow, governments may hash out a climate change agreement in Paris. But they may be avoiding a major topic: trade agreements. Trade agreements have major effects on environmental policies. But at the Paris climate talks, talking about trade is taboo. But outside, in the "off-COP" events, it is very much a subject.
Sujata Dey's blog
As Maude Barlow and trade campaigner Sujata Dey are in Paris to participate in events surrounding the Paris Climate Change Conference after spending the last month touring Europe to warn Europeans about CETA, the Canadian-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement. Based on Canada's almost 30 years of experience with free trade with the U.S. and Mexico, we have experiences to share. But as the conference opens, But why is it that while countries rush to sign trade deals such as CETA and the new Trans-Pacific Partnership, they cannot seem to get a binding climate change agreement? Very little at the UN or in previous climate conferences has been binding. But somehow, for trade agreements, this doesn't seem to happen. Countries pull all their resources into them, rushing around the world from Maui to Atlanta to Guam, desperate for agreements that gives corporations more rights. Provisions for the environment, human rights and labour rights may be not be enforceable, and we may never be able to control tax shelters or regulate global financial markets. However, trade agreements allow corporations to have binding rights through the Investor State Dispute Settlement process, involving a private arbitration process that allows corporations to sue states over laws or decisions that get in the way of profits. The message is: you have a right to profits but no rights to clean air or a decent wage, no rights to have clean drinking water.
In the last several years, Canadian business groups and their lobbyists have been making the transatlantic journey to promote CETA, the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement. And they are formidable opponents, the who’s who of the business community, showing the revolving door between our politicians and big business. But now, the rest of us will have our voice in Europe through a delegation from the Council of Canadians led by the organization’s National Chairperson, Maude Barlow. This week, the Council of Canadians is launching an eight-country, two-month European tour to bring the citizens’ point of view to the table with European leaders.
As party leaders debated the economy Thursday night, Canadians look for an independent voice to cut through the spin about the Canada-Europe trade deal, according to a poll conducted for the Council of Canadians by EKOS Research. Seventy-one per cent support the Parliamentary Budget Officer assessing the Canada-Europe Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA).