Why would a Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement be bad for the climate?
You may have heard that the New Zealand government is one of the governments involved in secretive negotiations for a Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement.
Our Government likes to paint this as a trade deal, but it’s really an investment agreement – in a nutshell, the US, which is pushing the deal, is trying to make it easier for its corporations to make money investing in other countries.
Why should a climate or coal activist care about this? Because the agreement would, as leaked drafts show, include Investor-State Dispute Resolution provisions. What that means is that, if a country that has signed the TPPA then tries to bring in laws or regulations that reduce a foreign investor’s profits, that company can sue the country for huge amounts of damages.
Suppose New Zealand signs on to the TPPA, and then a foreign coal company comes here, lured by the current Government’s support for mining and lack of any effective price on carbon.
Then suppose there’s a change of Government, and the new Government wants to regulate mining more tightly and make fossil fuel companies pay for their real costs of their actions. They might tighten environmental and health regulations so that the foreign coal company has to pay for damage it causes to the local environment and to workers’ and residents’ health, or start making the company pay for the greenhouse gas emissions it is responsible for.
Either of those measures would reduce the foreign coal company’s profits. Under a TPPA, the company could then sue the New Zealand government in an international court of arbitration over which New Zealand has no control.
This has happened with other similar investment agreements – for example, Oceana Gold, the company which operates Macraes Mine among others in New Zealand, is suing the Government of El Salvador over its refusal to issue a mining permit.
Even more than the actual cases, corporations use the threat of such suits to prevent Governments imposing tighter environmental regulations or carbon charges.
There are a whole lot of other reasons why it would be a terrible idea for New Zealand to sign on to a TPPA. You can give the Government that message loud and clear this Saturday 8 November – check out the event details below, or download this flyer with all the details.
Events, with links:
Auckland (1:00 pm at Aotea Square): speakers include Robyn Malcolm (Actors Equity), Bunny McDiarmid (Greenpeace), Dayle Takitimu (lawyer, Whanau-a-Apanui), Brian Mannering (Medical Students Association), with music from Don McGlashan, Moana Maniapoto, and Roger Fowler.
Hamilton (1:00 pm at Garden Place). TBA
Raglan (10:00 am Raglan Jetty at the end of Bow Street). Speeches and live music from Cornerstone Roots.
Tauranga (1:00pm at Red Square).
Rotorua (1:00pm at Kuirau Park Courts): speakers include Te Ururoa Flavell (Maori Party), Fletcher Tabuteau (NZ First), Annette Sykes (Mana Party), Potaua Baisiny-Tule (TangataWhenua.com), Catherine Delahunty (Green Party) and Chanz Mikaere.
Gisborne (1:00 pm at Derby Street)
Napier (1:00pm at Napier Council Steps on 231 Hastings Rd): Speakers and music by Ngatai Huata, march through town.
New Plymouth (1:00pm at Puke Ariki)
Palmerston North (1:00pm at PN Square, opposite the library) Speakers: Dr. Thomas Owen, Dr Rachel Keedwell (Horizons RC), Assoc Prof Jeff Sluker (Massey), Sarah Roberts (Greens), Darroch Ball (ex-NZ First), Jill White (ex-MP, Councillor and Mayor), Bruce Wilson (ex-Councillor), Lew Findlay (PNCC), Tangi Utikere (PNCC), Teanau Tuiono & Te Ao Pritchard (Palmy Panthers) and Sue Pugmire (organiser extraordinaire). Funeral theme symbolizing the death of democracy, dress-up optional!
Levin (11:00am at Te Takere Library/Community Centre) A morning of community engagement at the Community Centre with speakers, music, film and info packs.
Wellington (1:00pm at Cuba Street Bucket Fountain) A family friendly march to the Civic Square for speeches and music, with a focus on local government and communities as well as broader national concerns. Speakers include Sandra Grey (MC), Todd Rippon (Actors Equity), Greg Rzenosweicki (Renewables), Sue Kedgley (GWR Councillor), Gay Keating (OraTaiao: NZ Climate & Health Council)
Nelson (1:00pm at Millers Acre i-SITE): Speakers include Graeme O’Brien, Rachel Boyack (FIRST Union) and others.
Christchurch (1:00pm at Shands Crescent Reserve) March to Hagley Park where we’ll stay until 4pm with live music, speeches, kids entertainment, food stalls and a learning space where people can find out more about what’s at stake.
Timaru (1:00pm at Bay Hill Piazza) TBA
Dunedin (1:00pm at the Dental school for a march along George Street and then rally in the Octagon): Speakers include Metiria Turei (Green Party), Aaron Hawkins (Councillor) and Bob Lloyd (University of Otago).
Invercargill (1:00pm at Wachner Place).