The Observer, 10 Jan 16:
Surprisingly, your article on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) fails to mention the environment. (A deal for freer trade or corporate greed? Here’s the truth about TTIP Jan 3) 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. By contrast all the climate change agreements reached post-Paris are voluntary, and there is no equivalent body to enforce environmental standards. Disputes will be held in secret without any environmental representation, so the planet will lose out every time.
Dr Robin Russell-Jones