Don’t mention trade: leaked document reveals EU plans for the COP21

A leak from the EU’s shadowy Trade Policy Committee reveals officials charged with determining EU’s climate policy vowing to keep trade regulations out of the COP21 climate change talks, reports Nick Evans.

Meeting with four top table speakers but no audience members

Photo: Tabitha Spence, who comments that “The attendance at this (false) Solutions 21 meeting by big polluters in the COP21 green space is telling of how many people here agree with the chair’s claim that ‘oil and gas companies are not the enemy’.”

A recent article on this website argued we need to pay attention to the arcane world of international trade law. Cloaked in bureaucratic jargon and endless acronyms, international trade agreements such as TTIP threaten our democracies, rights, health and the sustainability of life on this planet.

If that sounds a bit overblown, take a look at this leaked document from the EU’s Trade Policy Committee.

This is a briefing from the European Commission climate secretariat about the most recent of the fortnightly meetings of EU trade officials that formulate EU trade policy. The minutes of these meetings are not public, and the UK officials who attend have no public profile. So leaks such as this give us a valuable insight.

The EU climate officials note the importance of the climate talks now underway in Paris, with its stated objective of keeping global warming below 2oC. However, they express concern at the possibility that proposals to regulate trade or intellectual property rights (IPR) might enter into the discussions.

Well you might think such issues would arise, as free trade agreements are routinely used by multinationals to overturn existing environmental protections or subsidies for renewables, to destroy resources that local populations depend on, and further fuel the rising CO2 emissions that spell catastrophe for millions.

So when President Jean-Claude Juncker boasts about the ambition of the EU’s climate pledge, or when EU Commissioner for Climate Action Miguel Arias Cañete tells us “Paris is a historic opportunity that we cannot miss”, bear in mind what we now know his representative has been telling trade officials:

  • “The EU’s overall objective is to have COP decisions without any explicit mention of trade and IPR issues and to minimize discussions on trade-related issues”
  • “Any attempt to create any kind of new provision/agenda item/work programme/mechanism on trade/IPR at the UNFCCC discussions cannot be accepted.”

So the EU officials are determined to ensure that climate talks do nothing to limit free markets – when it’s uncontrolled capitalism that created the problem in the first place.

Meanwhile, this is what happened this week when protestors attempt to expose the corporate takeover of the COP21 in Paris:

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