Friends of the Earth campaigners Jenny Bock and Bill Waren in front of the White House, Washington D.C. February 3, 2016.

Rally Tally: TPP signing inspires action

by Brian Salamanca, Friends of the Earth communications intern and Bill Waren, senior trade analyst

A cloudy day indicating heavy rain outside the White House did not deter activists from protesting the signing of the environmentally-destructive Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement in New Zealand on February 3. The protesters gathered at the White House because the TPP is not so much about trade as it is about deregulation and forcing governments to pay corporations and wealthy investors for the cost of complying with environmental and other public interest safeguards.

Friends of the Earth and allies protesting the TPP, Washington D.C., February 3, 2016.

Through the coordinated efforts of Friends of the Earth U.S., the Citizens Trade Campaign, Flush the TPP, and many others, a successful rally was staged at the White House along with several rallies at other locations around the country. At the same time, TPP protests were organized by our international allies around the world.

For example, Harriet Heywood, a national leader in the fight against the TPP as well as a Friends of the Earth activist in Tampa, was a leader in a February 4 march through the streets of the Florida city. Harriet addressed the crowd on behalf of Friends of the Earth and paid a visit to the office of Florida Senator Marco Rubio.

Friends of the Earth members and allies protest TPP signing in Tampa, Florida, February 4, 2016.

At about the same time in Washington state, Friends of the Earth activists bombarded the offices of Congressman Derek Kilmer, demanding that he vote NO on the TPP in order to save the climate and Puget Sound wildlife threatened by increased shipping of coal, oil and LNG. Other Friends of the Earth activists were attending a rally in Bellingham, Washington and demanding that U.S. Representatives Suzan DelBene and Rick Larsen vote NO on the TPP.

Meanwhile, an estimated 15,000 people marched through the streets of Auckland, New Zealand, led by Māori Warriors effectively shutting down the site of the TPP signing ceremony, a merely symbolic public relations stunt which backfired when the people rose up.

Protest Against TPP In Auckland, NZ
Event - Protest Against TPP In Auckland, NZban.jo
Almost 15,000 Kiwis protest signing of TPP trade deal in Auckland, New Zealand “

The fight to defeat the TPP has just begun. Now that the trade bureaucrats and their corporate advisors have agreed upon a final text for the TPP deal and signed off on it in New Zealand, the people and the parliaments of the United States and 11 other Asia-Pacific countries will decide its fate. And the fate of the TPP is increasingly uncertain — even desperate given the groundswell of opposition from environmentalists and progressive opponents of corporate overreach generally.

Tampa activists demand congressional rejection of TPP, Tampa, Florida, February 4, 2016.

Environmentalists are on the march against the TPP because it promises ecological and climate disaster. Common sense environmental regulations related to chemical and food safety, GMOs, water resources, land use, transportation and a range of issues would be undermined. But, the most profound threat is to climate policy.

According to Erich Pica, president of Friends of the Earth:

The TPP would trump the recently-concluded Paris accord on climate change because the TPP, like previous deals, can be effectively enforced by international tribunals with authority to levy retaliatory trade sanctions or unlimited awards of money damages. TransCanada has sued the U.S. under the NAFTA investment chapter for $15 billion for stopping construction of the Keystone XL pipeline.

Read the Friends of the Earth analysis of the environmental and climate threat posed by the TPP here.

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