Free Trade, worsening climate change

Even though the European Union boasts ambitions objectives regarding reducing CO2 emissions and fighting climate change, the EU enters into free trade agreements with a maximum number of countries across the world.

 According to a leaked document of the European Union, the fight against climate change and the Climate agreement in Paris do not need to halt free trade agreements, and most of all, should have no impact on TTIP. Still, this system of free trade hinders efforts to put in place a just and sustainable society. This is what we set out to prove through this article.

Urgency in climate change

According to the WHO, every year climate change kills approximately 150.000, all while deteriorating health circumstances, such as food, water or living space. 95% of deaths are tied to natural disasters, mostly occurring in the South.

The IPCC warns that if no action is taken against CO2 emissions, countries with low latitude will be affected by extreme weather, which will increase in intensity and occurrence. The number of people living in extreme poverty might increase up to 3 billion in 2050 unless environmental disasters are avoided by coordinated global action. The number of climate refugees could rise up to 200 million in 2050.

Climate ambitions of the European Union

Decreasing greenhouse gas emissions is crucial if we do not want to cross the barrier of 2°C of global warming, which would have bad repercussions on the environment. October 24, 2014 European policymakers agreed on the future climate and energy package for 2030. EU policymakers agree that this is an ambitious agreement in the fight against climate change.

December 12 2015, a global agreement against climate change was signed in Paris by decision makers from all of the world. A big step in the fight against climate change according to some, because 195 heads of state finally agreed and recognized the urgency of climate change. Many developing countries and civil society organizations think that this agreement will not be effective against climate change.

Free exchange goes against European climate change objectives

The EU is incoherent in its discourse. They announce having ambitious objectives in the fight against climate change while at the same time entering in free trade agreements that push our economic system into a never ending negative spiral for our planet and which hinders an effective fight against climate change.

The EU, by making these free trade agreements with for example countries of the South, will not only permit multinationals to increase their exports and to gain new market access. Multinationals will also delocalize to these countries where work is cheap and raw materials (wood, minerals, sand, water, …) plentiful.

Be it deforestation, intensive agriculture, exhaustion of groundwater or mining, there are very few rules to stop multinationals from destroying local resources massively. This pillage of nature and pollution, lead to increased CO2 emissions and more climate change.

Incoherence of European policies

To fight against climate change and to strive towards a just and sustainable society, we need a society where respect for big ecosystems, relocalization of production systems and consumption, development of renewable energies and the cooperation between citizens to share and distribute existing resources are a priority.

Free exchange policies have the opposite effect. We face a system where the interests of multinationals and financial profits come before the interests of the people and the planet. The system reinforces the international division of production systems, augment international trade and our dependency on fossil fuels.

Additionally, the instruments to govern disputes between states and big companies (ISDS) also prevent the development of policies to foster a transfer to renewable energies and a more ecological system. The rights of investors trump the environment and democracy.

The European Union is incoherent in its messages and policies. It is important that they take ambitious measures regarding CO2 emissions and the fight against climate change. But that is not enough. The economic system in its entirety needs to be reformed. The policies of the European Union need to act in favor of the people and the planet, and not to the betterment of an economic elite.

Time has come for social movements who fight climate change and free trade to unite forces to exert pressure on our governments to initiate the changes needed to fight efficiently against climate change.

If you want to know more about the subject, do not hesitate to read our file : Free trade, worsening against climate change.