TPP: WikiLeaks releases the Environment Chapter

18 January 2014 — Wikileaks Press

On Wednesday, 15 January 2014, WikiLeaks released a draft for the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) Environment Chapter. Previously, on 13 November 2013, WikiLeaks released the secret draft text of the Intellectual Property Rights Chapter. (our post)

About the Environment Chapter, WikiLeaks’ statement says that:

The Environment Chapter covers what the Parties propose to be their positions on: environmental issues, including climate change, biodiversity and fishing stocks; and trade and investment in ‘environmental’ goods and services. It also outlines how to resolve enviromental disputes arising out of the treaty’s subsequent implementation.(…)

When compared against other TPP chapters, the Environment Chapter is noteworthy for its absence of mandated clauses or meaningful enforcement measures. The dispute settlement mechanisms it creates are cooperative instead of binding; there are no required penalties and no proposed criminal sanctions. With the exception of fisheries, trade in ‘environmental’ goods and the disputed inclusion of other multilateral agreements, the Chapter appears to function as a public relations exercise.

Julian Assange, WikiLeaks’ publisher, stated: “Today’s WikiLeaks release shows that the public sweetner in the TPP is just media sugar water. The fabled TPP environmental chapter turns out to be a toothless public relations exercise with no enforcement mechanism.” (…)

WikiLeaks has also published an in-depth analysis of the Environment Chapter, by Kristinn Hrafnsson, spokesman.

He explains that:

(…) the Environment Chapter does not include enforcement mechanisms serving the defense of the environment; it is vague and weak, and adheres to the lowest common denominator of environmental interests.

The analysis notices that the choice, in the draft, of imprecise words like “adequate,” “may,” “if possible” shows that the Parties don’t have a real will to implement efficient measures to protect the environment.

Furthermore, the draft says precisely that, even if a measure is taken, it must not, in any case, have negative consequences for trade.

The article states:

(…)The Environment Chapter clearly shows the intention to first and foremost protect trade, not the environment. The principle is spelled out in this draft that local environmental laws are not to obstruct trade or investment between the countries. Furthermore, there is great emphasis on the self-regulatory principle when it comes to environmental protection, and emphasis on “…flexible, voluntary mechanisms, such as voluntary auditing and reporting, market-based incentives, voluntary sharing of information and expertise and public-private partnership”. But even such measures should be designed in a manner that “…avoids the creation of unnecessary barriers to trade”.(…)

The  article explains also that the TPP negotiations have wider implications than for the only countries involved in signing it (United States, Japan, Mexico, Canada, Australia, Malaysia, Chile, Singapore, Peru, Vietnam, New Zealand and Brunei):

(…) the principles outlined in the TPP will be a benchmark in the equally secretive US-EU trade talks for the TTIP (Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership) initiated in January 2013.(…)

After the release of the Environment Chapter  several environmental organizations have made statements and a  great number of comments have been published in the international press. A list of links can be found on This day in WikiLeaks, including updates.

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