A Scan of Critical World Developments
Environmental Damage and Corporate-Led Trade Deals: Not a Bug, but a Feature
Twenty years ago, the leaders of the US, Canada, and Mexico promised a new era of stronger environmental protection under the North American Free Trade Act (NAFTA). A new report by progressive and environmental organizations from all three countries highlights how such promises have not been borne out in practice. The report shows how NAFTA fueled the expansion of environmentally destructive mining, high-polluting manufacturing, and large-scale, export-oriented farming that relies on fossil fuels, pesticides, and genetically modified organisms. Moreover, a specific provision in NAFTA’s energy chapter inhibits Canada’s ability to decarbonize its economy by locking it into shipping large quantities of fossil fuels to the US. NAFTA also enables foreign corporations to challenge public health and environmental regulations outside of domestic courts and demand compensation for perceived lost profits. The report serves as a warning to citizen activists and policymakers as negotiations proceed on two new trade deals that have been shrouded with secrecy, the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership. According to the report, environmental damage is an inevitable result of corporate-dominated trade agreements that prioritize profit over social welfare and environmental sustainability.