Two sides to the (TPP) Trans-Pacific Partnership | Diplomatic Outreach or Corporate Steal

On the 21st of January, in the Southwestern corner of Berlin, Germany, I attended a lecture at the American Academy, an organization created to augment cultural and intellectual relations between the United States and Germany.

The American Academy in Berlin, Germany

The American Academy in Berlin, Germany

It was founded in 1994 by the U.S. Diplomat and Ambassador to Germany at the time Richard C. Holbrook, to encourage a transatlantic dialogue between the U.S. and German corporate, political, academic and cultural communities. This particular talk featured the American diplomat Richard N. Haass, who is the current President of the Council on Foreign Relations for the United States. Haass was formerly Special Assistant to President George H.W. Bush (Sr.).

Haass spoke to a cozy room of diplomats, academics, journalists and students. His talk specifically aligned to foreign policy, outlining some of the points of his recently published book “Foreign Policy Begins at Home”. He stressed that the United States has had an over-reach abroad and under-performance at home. Perhaps suffering, In his opinion, from ‘intervention fatigue’.

Besides emphasizing the need to put diplomacy over military, he also stressed that our current biggest challenge is to come up with a political and intellectual consensus. He mentioned that quality of education is the most important investment. A proponent of ‘investment partnerships’, he prefaced his discussion of global trade agreements by saying that the United States has had a growth of isolationism. He talked of the need to develop partnerships, saying that Asia is the fastest growing region with which the U.S. should specifically concern themselves. With this in mind, he spoke favorably of the TPP as an obvious strategic tool, essential for strengthening ties. The (TPP) Trans-Pacific Partnership is an extension of the 2005 (TPSEP) Trans-Pacific Strategic Economic Partnership Agreement. As of August 2013, the countries included are: Australia, Brunei, Chile, Canada, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the United States and Vietnam – listed in alphabetical order, not by measure of the implicit hierarchical power structure.

Pacific Rim Countries

His words ‘made perfect sense’ in light of his persuasive argument. Following his talk, the Executive Director of the American Academy, Dr. Gary Smith closed with the profound words that “Ideas Matter” and “Ideas Migrate”. It was the following day that I noticed that quite a different perception of the TPP had migrated into my inbox. 350.org, an environmental action movement, was on ‘high alert’, corresponding with the onset of the 2014 World Economic Forum, fortressed within the mountains of Davos, Switzerland.

World Economic Forum 2014 Davos

World Economic Forum 2014 Davos

Mentioning that though they don’t typically speak out about political affairs, 350.org nevertheless could not disregard the need to send out their timely message ‘the TPP is shaping up to be the worst kind of corporate power grab’ imaginable, with grim repercussions for the earth’s environment. Wikileaks had just leaked documents confirming that the United States TPP negotiating team is walking away from supporting strong environmental safeguards; protections from land use, logging and climate pollution. According to 350.org – an environmental organization and international grassroots movement founded by Bill McKibben aimed to reduce the CO2 emissions to 350 ppm – “the TPP would empower corporations to directly sue governments over laws and policies that they claim would reduce their profits. Legislation designed to address climate change, curb fossil fuel expansion and reduce air pollution, could all be subject to attack as a result of the TPP, cloaked as a free-trade agreement. In response, 350.org assembled an online activist form enabling people to contact their representatives, encouraging them not to support this highly secretive and expansive free-trade agreement between the United States and eleven Pacific Rim countries.

Davos, Switzerland location of 2014 World Economic Forum

Davos, Switzerland location of 2014 World Economic Forum

The World Economic Forum taking place in the secluded mountains of Switzerland, even drew criticism from one of their speakers, referring to the forum’s inherent elitist exclusivity. Kavita Ramdas, stating the ‘Tiny Elite’ Shouldn’t Run an Inequality Discussion’. It was the butt of jokes, by Jon Stewart on Comedy Central’s “the Daily Show”; referring to ‘Mountain Few’ and the ‘Money Oscars’, since Davos is not only elusive (to get to physically) but also exclusive, fabulously expensive.

And an even more scathing and hard-hitting idea migrated into my inbox from the Tomdispatch blog. With respect to the corporate grab, read the Tomgram by Greg Grandin about the “Terror of our Age” and “The Two Faces of Empire”. This view pretty much 180 degrees, diametrically opposed from the U.S. diplomat’s words that first alerted my ears to the TPP.

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Carol Keiter the blogger

Carol Keiter the blogger

TED talk James Hansen | Tax on Fossil Fuel Companies < reduce CO2 to 350 ppm | WWF The 3% Solution

The scientist James Hansen gives an informed TED Talk presentation about ‘Climate Change’, pointing out a way that our government(s) could reduce the level of CO2 in the atmosphere, enough, to avoid the catastrophe that we are headed for. Knowing that it’s essential that we diminish the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere in (ppm) part per million, to 350, Hansen has a plan; a tax on fossil fuel companies. And yet, our government(s) (the USA is up there on the guilty list) not only appear to ignore this fact, but are encouraging corporations to do all sorts of activities that will accelerate the rise in temperatures even more.

http://www.ted.com/talks/james_hansen_why_i_must_speak_out_about_climate_change.html

During the former Bush administration, Hansen was informed that he could no longer give talks without first having NASA censor them. At that time, the NASA Mission Statement, which Hansen had used previously to introduce his presentations, was suddenly no longer allowed. “To Understand and Protect the Home Planet”, was now omitted.

Hansen’s idea, is to diminish the level of CO2, by the government putting a tax on fossil fuel companies. This carbon fee on fossil fuel companies, would then be distributed equally to all (legal) residents, 100% of which could be used to stimulate the economy and innovations, to move us rapidly towards a clean energy future, with the government not keeping one dime.

Jim Dipeso Republicans for Environmental Protection, is quoted saying that this idea sounds, sound! In his words, it’s “Transparent. Market-based. Does not enlarge the government. Leaves energy decision to individual choices.. Sounds like a conservative climate plan.”

Yet, instead of placing a rising fee on carbon emissions to discourage the process, our government is forcing the public to subsidize it (400 – 500 B dollars per year, world-wide) and in fact, encouraging the extraction of every fossil fuels through: mountain top removal, longwall mining, fracking, tar sands, tar shale, deep ocean arctic drilling…A path which if continued, will not only ensure more environmental destruction, but also lead the world to the tipping point of ice-sheet disintegration, which will accelerate the warming process. This warming will inevitably commit a large fraction of the world’s species to distinction, besides the massive extremes in weather which are already occurring, resulting in massive famines…

And the longer we wait in taking action to divert this process, the more difficult it will become; until it will be irreversible.

A new report from WWF and CDP speak of “The 3% Solution: Driving Profits Through Carbon Reduction” as an initiative to move companies forward towards profitable and practical ways to reduce emissions to help curb climate change. The CEO’s of WWF and CDP were joined by Steven Swartz, a partner of McKinsey & Company, in a webcast unveiling their groundbreaking analysis. World Wildlife Fund reveal that climate change poses a fundamental threat to the places, people and species that WWF works to protect. The Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) is an independent, non-profit organization working to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by providing a global system for companies and cities to measure, disclose, manage and share vital environmental information. Working together, the two of them have chartered a means to instigate companies to substantially reduce carbon emissions, while increasing resiliency, ROI and profits, in “The 3% Solution“. The report launch can be viewed in a webcast recording which took place on June 18th, 2013.

Goal for the reduction in parts per million of Carbon Dioxide in the atmosphere
http://www.350.org/

Incidentally, there have been recent detections by scientists of methane bubbling up from cracks in the permafrost in the continental shelf of the Arctic, which is 30 times more potent in trapping heat in the atmosphere than carbon dioxide. Read more about this in this Times article.