Six months ago in Paris, almost 200 Governments committed for the first time to a universal agreement that would tackle climate change, promising to reduce the use of fossil fuels and increase the use of renewable energy.
The EU proudly claims it has “been at the forefront of international efforts towards a global climate deal” 1. However, a leak of the European Commission (EC) proposal for a chapter on Energy and Raw materials in the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) presented on 20 June 2016 to the European Council, shows that the EC is promoting unrestricted trade in fossil fuels while working to restrict the implementation of clean energy policies.
The EU demands that TTIP “must” include “a legally binding commitment to eliminate all existing restrictions on the export of natural gas in trade between” the U.S. and EU. Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) is a fossil fuel with high climate emissions. Under this proposal, TTIP would lead to an increase in the export of LNG from the US to the EU 2, expanding in this way the dependency on fossil fuels and undermining the energy transition needed to meet greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reduction targets set by the EU.
The EU’s proposal could also undermine efforts to increase the use of renewable energy. The EU actively supports EU states' intervention to stimulate renewable energy 3. Yet, their TTIP proposal prevents positive discrimination in favour of clean energy when it states that electricity utilities shall not discriminate “between types of energy” in granting access to the electrical grid.
Through this document, the EU promotes industry “self-regulation” by corporations on energy efficiency, as opposed to mandatory requirements. The EU also proposes the establishment of a “Working Group for Energy and Raw Materials” that would institutionalise lobbying opportunities for fossil fuel corporations and could provide industry representatives an express route to use TTIP rules as a way to push back policies which restrict trade or investment in fossil fuels.
This leak exposes how trade deals such as TTIP would help entrench fossil fuel dependency and impair efforts to tackle global warming.
“Despite the lofty rhetoric heard at Paris, this leak of the backdoor secretive dealings of the EU and US shows that trade and corporate interests always trumps climate action. In the face of an ever worsening climate crisis, we urgently need trade deals that put climate and people first”, said Cecilia Olivet, researcher on trade and investment at the Transnational Institute.
"This text looks like it has been drafted with the main purpose of safeguarding the interests of industry, and the producers and consumers of fossil fuels. Instead of including text that would help to ensure that climate targets can be met, as we had hoped, this text will only make it more difficult to reach the needed energy transition" said Burghard Ilge, Senior policy officer at Both ENDS.
2. The EU is already the world’s third-largest importer of LNG