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08 December, 2015

Climate Deception: Non-binding "targets" for climate, but binding rules on trade in services

The whole world is watching as world leaders from nearly every country across the globe meet in Paris this week to set carbon emission reductions targets to address global climate change.

Unfortunately representatives of 50 of the same governments are also meeting this week in Geneva to negotiate binding rules that will seriously constrain countries' ability to meet those targets.

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The TiSA is modeled on the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) of the WTO, which Naomi Klein has documented in her book, This Changes Everything, has been used extensively against environmental policies. Yet the point of the TiSA is to go further than the GATS because corporations see the existing rules as not "ambitious enough." The financial services, logistics and technological corporations, largely in the United States and also the EU, are attempting to expand the WTO's GATS to develop a set of deregulation and privatization rules that constrain public oversight of how services operate domestically and globally, setting aside environmental, labor, and development issues in favor of transnational corporate rights to operate and profit.

Fortunately, Wikileaks has come again to the rescue. Today they are publishing analysis and secret, leaked proposals that would create far-reaching rules that give corporations rights to access markets and limit public oversight of environmental and energy services and road transportation in TiSA member countries.

The analysis of a proposal for an "Energy Related Services (ERS)" annex of the TiSA would give "rights" to foreign energy corporations in domestic markets. Far from mandating reductions in carbon emissions or promoting access for poor countries to clean technologies, the proposed TiSA annex would actually limit the ability of governments (on national, regional, or local levels) to set policies that differentiate between polluting and carbon-based energy sources, such as oil and coal, from clean and renewable energy sources such as wind and solar. This is according to the "principle of technological neutrality," revealed in the analysis of the proposed chapter by Victor Menotti published by the Public Services International (PSI) global union federation today.

Since reducing the dependence on fossil fuels is the basis of much of today's climate policy, it is hard to imagine how governments could achieve the reductions in fossil fuel usage required by the targets if they are not able to differentiate among energy sources.

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