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Green Groups: Leaked Trans-Pacific Partnership Environment Chapter Unacceptable

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Today, WikiLeaks posted a draft environment chapter of the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) that governments have negotiated in secret for nearly four years. TPP nations have billed the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement as an "ambitious, 21st-century trade agreement." However, a joint analysis of the WikiLeaks document, dated November 2013, by environmental organizations reveals that countries are nowhere close to that goal.

“This peek behind the curtain reveals the absence of an ambitious 21st-century trade agreement promised by negotiating countries,” said Carter Roberts, President and CEO of World Wildlife Fund (WWF). “The lack of fully-enforceable environmental safeguards means negotiators are allowing a unique opportunity to protect wildlife and support legal sustainable trade of renewable resources to slip through their fingers. These nations account for more than a quarter of global trade in fish and wood products and they have a responsibility to address trade’s impact on wildlife crime, illegal logging, and overfishing.”

Last fall, 24 environmental organizations, including the Sierra Club, Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), and WWF, sent a letter to the U.S. Trade Representative, Ambassador Froman, calling for a strong and legally enforceable environment chapter that includes the elimination of harmful fisheries subsidies, which are a key driver of overfishing; a ban on trade in illegally harvested timber, wildlife, and fish; and obligations to uphold domestic environmental laws and commitments under multilateral environmental agreements.

“If the environment chapter is finalized as written in this leaked document, President Obama’s environmental trade record would be worse than George W. Bush’s,” said Michael Brune, executive director of the Sierra Club. “This draft chapter falls flat on every single one of our issues - oceans, fish, wildlife, and forest protections - and in fact, rolls back on the progress made in past free trade pacts.”

Since a bipartisan consensus on trade was reached in May 2007 between Congress and the Bush Administration, the environment chapters of all U.S. free trade agreements have been legally enforceable and included a list of environmental treaties that countries committed to uphold. Today's leaked text does not meet the standard set by Congress.

"Environmental protections are only as effective as their enforcement provisions, and a trade agreement with weak enforcement language will do little or nothing to protect our communities and wildlife," said Peter Lehner, executive director of the NRDC. "Starting with the Bush administration, the United States has insisted that all trade pacts include enforceable environmental protections, and we should settle for nothing less in the TPP. Considering the dire state of many fisheries and forests in the Asia-Pacific region and the myriad threats to endangered wildlife, we need a modern trade agreement with real teeth, not just empty rhetoric."

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Background

  • The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is an expansive trade pact being negotiated by Australia, Brunei, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, Vietnam, Canada, Mexico, and the U.S. Eventually, every Pacific Rim nation may be included.
  • Completing the TPP agreement has been identified as President Obama's "top trade priority," and the President urged the United States to pass the agreement in his 2013 State-of-the-Union address. In addition, at a lunch hosted by World Wildlife Fund on November 19, USTR Ambassador Michael Froman stated that, “President Obama will not support a TPP agreement that does not have strong environmental provisions.”
  • The leaked environment chapter text dates to Nov. 24, 2013, just before the latest high-level meeting of TPP leaders in Singapore. It was drafted by Canada and attempts to bring together the diverse positions of TPP countries on issues related to the environment and climate change in one single text.
  • For a joint analysis of the WikiLeaks document by the Sierra Club, NRDC, and WWF, click here: http://sc.org/TPPEnvironment
  • For more information on the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership, see this Sierra Club report: http://sc.org/RawDealReport

 About World Wildlife Fund

WWF is one of the world’s leading conservation organizations, working in 100 countries for over half a century. With the support of almost 5 million members worldwide, WWF is dedicated to delivering science-based solutions to preserve the diversity and abundance of life on Earth, halt the degradation of the environment and combat climate change. Visit www.worldwildlife.org to learn more and follow our news conversations on Twitter @WWFNews.

About the Sierra Club

The Sierra Club is America’s largest and most influential grassroots environmental organization, with more than 2.1 million members and supporters nationwide. In addition to creating opportunities for people of all ages, levels and locations to have meaningful outdoor experiences, the Sierra Club works to safeguard the health of our communities, protect wildlife, and preserve our remaining wild places through grassroots activism, public education, lobbying, and litigation. For more information, visit http://www.sierraclub.org.

About NRDC

The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) is an international nonprofit environmental organization with more than 1.4 million members and online activists. Since 1970, our lawyers, scientists, and other environmental specialists have worked to protect the world's natural resources, public health, and the environment. NRDC has offices in New York City, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Bozeman, MT, and Beijing. Visit us at www.nrdc.org and follow us on Twitter @NRDC.

Contacts:

Christopher Conner, WWF, 202-495-4786, christopher.conner@wwfus.org

Dan Byrnes, Sierra Club, 202-495-3039, daniel.byrnes@sierraclub.org

Elizabeth Heyd, NRDC, 202-289-2424 or 202-725-0648 (cell), eheyd@nrdc.org

Jay Branegan, NRDC, 202-513-6263, jbranegan@nrdc.org