Trade agreement could bar action to save climate

Independent, 1 September 2015:

TTIP may  pose dangers  for public  health, but it is even worse for the environment,  particularly in relation to the continued extraction and burning of fossil fuels (EU holds vast majority of TTIP meeting with corporate lobbyists August 28).

The independent UK committee on climate change supports fracking in the UK , but its Chair, Lord Deben has also stated  that his committee would not hesitate to ban  fracking if  the UK was unable to meet its climate change commitments.

So imagine a scenario in 2030 whereby several US or European-based  companies are extracting shale gas and/or shale oil in the UK, and Lord Deben’s committee announced that further extraction was incompatible with the UK’s Climate Change Act which requires an 80% reduction in carbon emissions by 2050. I have no doubt that those same companies would sue the British Government under the terms of TTIP, and the result would either be massive compensation or repeal of the Climate Change Act.

It needs to be remembered that the World Trade Organisation has the power to impose punitive fines on governments  as well as other public institutions. There  is no equivalent body to enforce environmental standards.

Dr Robin Russell-Jones
Stoke Poges, Buckinghamshire

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