A trade agreement is being negotiated among countries bordering the Pacific Ocean, including Japan, Vietnam, Australia, Chile, and the United States. This is called the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and, in short, it is expected to boost the global economy. Taxes are to be lowered. Stricter labor and environmental laws are to be adopted. Prosperity can be had.
So what’s the catch? There has to be a catch, right?
There are several.
For starters, the TPP, while at the forefront of the current news cycle, has been in secretive talks for five years now. That’s right: secretive. In fact, the only information regarding the TPP available to the public has been accessed through leaks. On that note, according to The Sierra Club, “…negotiators from the United States and other countries are forbidden to talk in specific about the negotiations, making public input and participation impossible.”
So, quick recap before moving on: Five years. Secretive, very secretive. Beneficial to the global economy. So beneficial that Vox projects that, “the TPP could increase U.S. incomes by $77 billion by 2025.” That’s a lot of coin. Enough to sit and wonder: lower taxes, offer more jobs, receive a higher income, achieve prosperity… What could be so bad about any of that?
What causes pause, then, is considering the price our planet would have to pay in order to achieve those wishes. Here are the potential environmental costs of boosting the global economy via the Trans-Pacific Partnership:
Well, Hello Fracking!
If the TPP is “fast-tracked” to implementation, consider the globe fast-tracked to fracking. Why? Answer: the investor state dispute settlement (ISDS). The ISDS, according to Alternet, “…grants mulitnationals the power to sue any government that interferes with their business.” An example of this, Alternet goes on to say, is how Lone Pine Resources is currently suing the Canadian government for more than $250 million because a moratorium was placed on their fracking.
Does that mean that every company WILL sue when government tries to stop practices harmful to the environment? Not necessarily. But there certainly won’t be anything saying that they cannot.
Well, Hello to you too, Pollution!
You make more money, you spend more money. Right? That seems to be the way it goes. Typically, it’s no different for a company. And what, more than anything else, does a company want to do? Expand.
With expansion comes the usage of more resources, namely with transportation of goods — the product will have to travel further to its destination, whether it be by water or by land.
On top of that, imagine if the implementation of the TPP actually does cause an uptick in fracking. Imagine if, in addition to fracking, coal production intensifies. Imagine the pollution to our air. Imagine the pollution to our waters.
If neither of those examples were enough, try this: Let’s say that the TPP does pass. Apparel manufacturing tariffs between the United States and Vietnam will drop from 17.2% to 0%. That’s a huge difference, folks. Such a large difference, in fact, that it’d be a safe bet to say that production would rise. And, a rise in production can mean A) more energy and resources are to be used to accomplish one goal and B) the water that goes unused will be contaminated and pumped back into the waterways.