Trade rules should not trump action on climate change

Press release - October 4, 2017
Leading environmental, climate, health, labour and faith organizations are releasing an open statement today on NAFTA, environment and climate.

September 26, Montreal - Leading environmental, climate, health, labour and faith organizations are releasing an open statement today on NAFTA, environment and climate.

“NAFTA negotiations are on track to cement a regime that puts the interests of corporations and profit above our shared interest in reducing climate pollution,” says Andrea Harden-Donahue, Energy and Climate Justice Campaigner with the Council of Canadians.

The open statement urges the Canadian government to address the environmental failings of NAFTA including the removal of the Chapter 11 Investor-State Dispute Settlement provisions and the energy chapter.

“Changes proposed by the Canadian government to NAFTA’s Chapter 11 do not address the fundamental problem. Giving powerful corporations the right to undermine public legislation, regulations and policy decisions is unacceptable. Chapter 11 needs to go,” says Mike Palecek, national president of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers.

Canada has faced 38 Chapter 11 suits, two-thirds of them over environmental protections, making Canada the most sued country in the developed world. Canada currently faces $2.6 billion in cases. A recent poll found 63% of Canadians agree Chapter 11 provisions should be eliminated from the deal. 

“Adding Mexico to the proportional sharing clause is a step backwards,” says Jennifer Henry, Executive Director with KAIROS: Canadian Ecumenical Justice Initiatives. “The clause further locks us into a fossil fuel future, by limiting the regulatory capacity of governments to conserve energy and direct the energy sector in the public interest.”

The open letter also argues trade rules should require participating countries to adopt, maintain and implement policies ensuring compliance with domestic environmental laws and international agreements, including the Paris Climate Agreement and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

“Trade rules cannot be allowed to pre-empt the policies required to meet our Paris Climate Agreement commitments,” says Mike Hudema, climate and energy campaigner at Greenpeace Canada.

“There is a fundamental tension between the drive to liberalize trade and maximize corporate profit and the public policies we need to address the climate crisis. It is time to put people and the planet first,” says Bilan Arte, Communications Lead, The Leap.  

The open letter is signed by more than 30 Canadian organizations representing hundreds of thousands of people.

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For more information:

Andrea Harden-Donahue, Energy Campaigner, 613-793-5488, 

Dylan Penner, Media Officer, 613-795-8685, 

Images: https://www.flickr.com/photos/councilofcanadians/sets/72157686596459300