Congressman Mark Pocan

Representing the 2nd District of Wisconsin
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Rep. Pocan, House Democrats to President Obama: Free Trade Agreements Must Not Undermine Efforts to Address Climate Change

Oct 9, 2015
Press Release
Trade rules in the Trans-Pacific Partnership must not undercut the adoption of a climate deal in Paris

Washington, D.C – Today, U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan (D-WI), along with 43 House Democrats, sent a letter to President Obama expressing concerns about the potential conflict between free trade rules and the urgency to address climate change. In the letter, the Members urge the Administration to refrain from adopting trade rules, including those in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which empower foreign investors to challenge state and federal environmental protections.

In recent years we have witnessed an alarming rise of international trade and investment disputes related to renewable energy and climate policies,” the Members wrote. “Foreign investors and corporations are increasingly using investment rules in free trade agreements and bilateral investment treaties to challenge climate and clean energy policies. We urge the administration to ensure no provisions within any trade agreement under consideration by the United States undermine the ability of countries to reach or implement a strong agreement to address climate change.”

The letter was also signed by Reps. Brendan Boyle (D-PA), Matt Cartwright (D-PA), Judy Chu (D-CA), David Cicilline (D-RI), John Conyers, Jr. (D-MI), Peter DeFazio (D-OR), Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), Mark DeSaulnier (D-CA), Debbie Dingell (D-MI), Donna Edwards (D-MD), Keith Ellison (D-MN), John Garamendi (D-CA), Raúl M. Grijalva (D-AZ), Luis Gutierrez (D-IL), Mike Honda (D-CA), Jared Huffman (D-CA), Marcy Kaptur (D-OH), Bill Keating (D-MA), Barbara Lee (D-CA), Ted Lieu (D-CA), Dan Lipinski (D-IL), Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), Alan Lowenthal (D-CA), Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), Betty McCollum (D-MN), Jim McGovern (D-MA), Jerry McNerney (D-CA), Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-NJ), Charles Rangel (D-NY), John Sarbanes (D-MD), Bobby Scott (D-VA), José Serrano (D-NY), Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), Brad Sherman (D-CA), Louise Slaughter (D-NY), Bill Tonko (D-NY), Niki Tsongas (D-MA), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Maxine Waters, (D-CA) Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ), John Yarmuth (D-KY).

The full text of the letter is below and a signed version can be found here.

Dear President Obama:

We write today to express concerns about the potential conflict between free trade rules and the urgency to address climate change. Climate change is an enormous threat to our nation and our planet, and the 21st Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in Paris is a key opportunity for the global community to agree to a strong framework to combat the crisis. As the administration pushes towards an agreement in Paris, we must not let trade rules, including those incorporated in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) undercut the prospects for or implementation of a strong climate deal.

In recent years we have witnessed an alarming rise of international trade and investment disputes related to renewable energy and climate policies. Foreign investors and corporations are increasingly using investment rules in free trade agreements and bilateral investment treaties to challenge climate and clean energy policies. Recently there has been a significant increase in investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) cases in which corporations bring legal action against governments with policies contradicting the parameters of a trade agreement. In fact, since 2011 the number of ISDS cases, which often target environmental regulations and standards, has exploded to an average of nearly fifty cases each year.

In order to combat the climate crisis every nation will need to transition to a new, low carbon future. There are many ways this can be accomplished, but countries and localities will need flexibility to realize this goal. All countries should be incentivized to implement policies to combat climate change. For this reason, we cannot adopt trade rules, which empower foreign investors to challenge state and federal renewable energy programs.  

The Paris climate deal and free trade agreements cannot be discussed in silos. Further, the United States must not perpetuate the ability of foreign companies to undermine sovereign governments’ efforts to combat climate change. We urge the administration to ensure no provisions within any trade agreement under consideration by the United States undermine the ability of countries to reach or implement a strong agreement to address climate change.

Sincerely,

 

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