TTIP – How the US crushed the cornerstone of EU climate change policy

28th January 2016 / Editors Picks, EU

How about this for a statement from Friends Of The Earth to put air traffic and its effects on the environment into perspective – “Air travel is the world’s fastest growing source of greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide, which cause climate change. Globally the world’s 16,000 commercial jet aircraft generate more than 600 million tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2), the world’s major greenhouse gas, per year. Indeed aviation generates nearly as much CO2 annually as that from all human activities in Africa.”

It appears that the enormous pollution increase generated from aircraft activity is due to rapid industry growth which has been expanding at nearly two and half times average economic growth rates since 1960.

To put a little more scale to the industry, according to the Air Transport Action Group (pro aviation) there are over 58 million people employed worldwide in aviation and related tourism. Of this, 8.7 million people work directly in the aviation industry. Over 3 billion people use air transport a year. However, as a result aviation is responsible for 2% to all human activity generated CO2 emissions and 12% from all transport sources.

If aviation were a country, it would rank 21st in the world in terms of gross domestic product (GDP), generating $606 billion of GDP per year, considerably larger than some members of the G20 (and around the same size as Switzerland). By 2026, it is forecast that aviation will contribute $1 trillion to world GDP.

In the next ten years it is estimated that aviation activity will increase by some 40% but the number of people flying will double over the next fifteen years and aircraft emissions will be 15% of all human activity within fifty years. The impact on the global atmosphere from air travel will be concentrated over Europe and the USA where 70-80% of all flights occur.

It is no wonder then that the EU, armed with this information, decided to make aircraft emissions the cornerstone of EU climate change policy. Whether you believe in human induced climate change here is irrelevant.

The recent Corporate Observatory report published a few days ago is centred around TTIP and ‘Regulatory Cooperation’ – a policy designed in secret to bypass all sorts of domestic legislation and without doubt an attack on democratic principles; a corporate coups d’état would be a good way to describe it.

An excerpt from this sizeable reports says – In 2013, the European Union decided to demand that all airlines pay for their carbon emissions for flights into and out of EU airports. But following what almost became a trade war with key EU business partners, including China and the United States, the measure was frozen. In the US, President Obama sided with airlines and signed a law that would shield them from having to pay carbon fees.

Bowing to pressure in 2012, Climate Commissioner Connie Hedegaard agreed “to stop the clock” in order to create a positive atmosphere for international talks on an alternative global plan to tackle airline emissions. The EU effectively agreed to start a regulatory dialogue at the international level with its major business partners and the US, following one of the key principles of transatlantic regulatory cooperation: working together to forge international standards.

But the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), the de facto global aviation regulator, will not agree on a global deal to create a market-based scheme to reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions before 2016. In the event that ICAO fails to implement a market system by 2020, the EU proposal appears to envision the possibility that the EU carbon market will cover carbon emissions for all airlines arriving in and departing from EU airspace.

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In short, an unambitious and ineffective regulation on aviation carbon emissions has been challenged by the US and has undergone a regulatory dialogue. This dialogue led to a delay of a minimum of four and maximum eight years. All of that trouble has been for an EU regulation that cannot even be regarded an ambitious measure, as it was not strong enough to avoid temperatures rising above two degrees.

This is simply another example of how US corporations are going about the domination of TTIP negotiations. As with most decisions, these corporations, aided by their paid-for politicians use bullying, intimidation and coercion as strategy number one.

Executive Director of campaign group War on Want, said TTIP was: “An assault on European and US societies by transnational corporations.”

The sovereign powers of individual nations like Britain are being handed over by David Cameron and his team to an international corporatocracy who will end up dictating the policies of democratically elected governments. In fact, if ever you doubted your vote was a democratic one, then you were right.

The TTIP agreement is the biggest trade deal in the history of the world, responsible for some 40% of total global trade. It’s effect will be far greater than that of the EU or the common market. Yet, not only do we have no choice in the matter, the deal is being hammered out by unelected bureaucrats and corporate managers/lobbyists in secret who are not representing the wishes of millions of objectors or the European people as a whole.

Graham Vanbergen –

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