OraTaiao: The New Zealand Climate and Health Council warns that negotiations over the Trans- Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) threaten New Zealand’s ability to protect our climate and health.
The Council’s concerns mirror today’s publication of an open letter to the Prime Minister
The biggest threat is the ‘Investor State Dispute Settlement’ (ISDS) provisions. This mechanism allows overseas companies, including fossil fuel companies, to sue our Government if any local law changes might substantially affect their value or profits.
‘Now more than ever’ says the Council’s Co-convenor Dr Rhys Jones, ‘we need laws made in the best interests of New Zealanders and our future security’.
Overseas, governments are being sued for millions of dollars. Germany, for example, currently faces two investment disputes brought by Swedish firm Vattenfall. After the Stern report on climate change, Germany took measures to reduce the damaging effects of carbon dioxide emissions from a coal-fired power plant owned by Vattenfall, and this is being challenged. Then Germany closed a nuclear power plant following the Fukushima disaster, and this too is being challenged. These challenges do not claim that the power plants are safe, but that investors are losing out.
Several leaks of the TPPA environment chapter, which were posted on Wikileaks in January and again in February this year, show that it will do nothing to protect our right to introduce new measures to address climate change. In the light of these leaks and the challenges to countries protecting their health and environment, Dr Jones says that the ‘trust us’ approach of the New Zealand negotiation team on the TPPA is not good enough when it comes to protecting climate and health.
Dr Jones says ‘The world’s expert climate scientists have told us that we need to rapidly move towards a low or zero emissions economy if we want to avoid overheating the planet before 2050’.
‘Adapting to climate changes already on the way will be challenging enough, but there is no way we will be able to adapt if we continue with business-as-usual’ says Dr Jones. ‘For a just transition to a low emissions economy, we need to put the interests of New Zealand employees and entrepreneurs first – not overseas companies’ profits.’
The next round of TPPA negotiations is happening in Vietnam right now. ‘The irony’ says Dr Jones ‘is the Government’s urgency to protect overseas profits with the TPPA, instead of international climate cooperation’.
‘The TPPA is not healthy for us, our climate or our sovereignty’ ends Dr Jones. ‘New Zealanders need to be free to protect our climate, our country and our future’.
Media Contact: Dr Rhys Jones
Tel. 09 923 6278 Mob. 021 411 743 firstname.lastname@example.org
Dr Alex Macmillan, OraTaiao Acting Co-convenor, 021 322625;
Rob Zorn, Stonefish Web and Communications Ltd, 04 476 0427 | email@example.com
According to the latest expert climate science (IPCC AR5 WG1), for a two-thirds chance of staying within the internationally agreed limit of 2’C warming of our planet, we need to emit less than half a trillion tonnes of greenhouse gases over the next 35 years.
Professor Lord Nicholas Stern’s prominent report on climate change (2007) showed how failing to act on climate change will produce profoundly greater costs and damage to the economy and human health, but probable economic gains by moving quickly on emissions reductions. Lord Stern was UK government advisor and former World Bank Chief Economist. The Stern Review is available at http://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/20130129110402/http:/www.hm- treasury.gov.uk/stern_review_report.htm
Stern N. The economics of climate change: the Stern review. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007.)
OraTaiao: The New Zealand Climate and Health Council
Dr Rhys Jones (Ngāti Kahungunu) is a Public Health Physician and Senior Lecturer at the University of Auckland. He co-convenes OraTaiao: The NZ Climate and Health Council.
OraTaiao: The New Zealand Climate & Health Council are senior doctors and other health professionals concerned with climate change as a serious public health threat. They also promote the positive health gains that can be achieved through action to address climate change. See: www.orataiao.org.nz