It’s no secret that the purpose of free trade is to send services and goods around the globe without restriction. What most don’t know is that restrictions are increasingly denied for things we want like environmental, health and job protections. When market access for corporations is restricted for these reasons or to simply carve out a little bit of love for the local economy, it’s deemed a bad thing. The legalese labels this “discriminatory”. Favouring local jobs, goods, and services is in fact illegal in the wild world of trade because local sourcing can cause expropriation of a global corporation’s anticipated profit “assets”. Countries are not just given a verbal reprimand. New generation trade allows profit seekers to wield lawsuits in special courts against protective laws. Corporations can sue nations because they are using laws to protect the public in trade courts. Even more shocking, we cannot sue back. It’s a one way process called Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS). This system transfers the power of law from nation states to investors. It is appropriately called Investor State for short.
On Sunday past, the National TPP Team with MoveOn.org organized a trade webinar featuring Canadian Naomi Klein about the TPP (the Trans Pacific Partnership ~ see Trade Justice Dictionary), other new generation deals, and climate change. Klein summarized the intimate relationship between climate change and this style of international policy and gave examples of how free trade has supported the traditional energy giants. She shared how Lone Pine corporation is suing Canada for 230 million under NAFTA because of Quebec’s fracking moratorium. Doing what governments are employed to do, Quebec passed a temporary ban on fracking while researching impacts to people and water in the St. Lawrence region. NAFTA, which heavily features free market energy transfers, opened the doors to Investor State trade lawsuits about energy production.
In this time of serious environmental challenges, we need to be able to build our local economies and to source green energies without threat of lawsuit. One direction lawsuits from corporations to countries for loss of profits cannot create the right climate for humanity’s dilemma. On a planet with dangerously high emissions, we need to also invest substantially in the local economy to bring balance back. We need to have law on our side. May we begin to seriously care for our futures and our children’s by enacting policy that promotes climate security.
Klein’s talk can be found in audiorecording at: https://www.freeconferencecallhd.com/playback/?n=HcbOU%2FjKjumhttps://www.freeconferencecallhd.com/playback/?n=HcbOU%2FjKjum