Anne-Marie Mineur: One Big Puppet Show

11 December 2015

Anne-Marie Mineur: One Big Puppet Show

The draft climate agreement has been published, and it’s no better than expected. The real points still haven’t been dealt with, and once again – surprise-surprise - air transport and shipping have been left out. Also, the agreements on adjusting cost-sharing are again under review.

The negotiators who talk to the European Parliament delegation assure us that they will be doing everything they can to rescue the treaty. But do they really want to? A weak agreement is in the interests of the investors, and that’s precisely in keeping with he negotiators’ secret assignment. At any rate that’s what appears to be the case from a leaked paper which the British NGO War on Want managed to get its hands on.

The leaked article was an instruction to the delegation negotiating on behalf of the EU in which they are heavily pressured to ensure that “measures taken to combat climate change, including unilateral ones, (do) not constitute a means of arbitrary or unjustifiable discrimination or a disguised restriction on international trade”. It’s also not the aim of the negotiators to ensure that new climate technologies are freely distributed across the world, because this would weaken the financial incentive for innovation.

In other words, international trade must not suffer any damage as a result of this climate agreement.

It may have been futile, but I asked the negotiators whether this had really been included in their mandate. The Parliament’s position is also far from what I would have liked to see, but it’s rather more ambitious and critical than this. At any rate, it doesn’t at all insist that trade has to take priority over everything. Members of the European Parliament are urging a strong and binding treaty.

We are also greatly concerned about free trade treaties such as the TTIP, and the massive transport costs which will result. The Dutch employers’ group is urging that shale gas and tar sands oil are included in the TTIP, and that doesn’t do anything to calm our fears. But if the European public’s stated views are being brushed aside without so much as a by-your-leave on the basis of a secret memo that goes directly against their expressed will, we have an entirely different problem. Major investors have, it would seem, an extremely tight grip on our democracy.

The shots are being called by the countries where corporate business is dominant, the chair of the delegation of indigenous peoples told me when I met him this afternoon. “The rest is one big puppet show.”

I can only agree with her.

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