The hidden costs of trade treaties by Bas Van Beek, S Beunder and J Mast
to read the article published on May 29, 2015, click on
The free trade treaties with Canada (CETA) and the United States (TTIP) are not threatening European standards, the negotiators in Brussels assure us. Yet environmental and food safety regulations have already been weakened.
Most tar sands – a mix of sand, clay and oil – are located in the Canadian province Alberta. The climate impact of tar sands oil is high, as CO2 emissions caused by this oil are much higher than those of conventional oil.
Not only the climate, also the population suffers because of the tar sands industry, says Allan Adam, chief of the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation. It causes large scale water pollution: 'Our children get skin rashes when they swim in the lake. As a child I could drink from our rivers, nowadays that is impossible.' The population struggles with health problems and increased cancer rates. 'The industry keeps claiming they cannot be appointed as the sole cause, but our research shows otherwise.'
Canada is the largest exporter of tar sands worldwide. Over the last years the country has invested heavily in the expansion of its production capacity and is looking for new export markets. The European market, dependent as it is on the import of oil and its derivatives, is calling.
Before Canadian tar sands reach Europe, they are processed in American refineries, based mostly on the gulf of Mexico. Here too the stakes are high. In 2012 trade with Europe in gasoline and diesel was worth 32 billion dollars...
The prolonged negotiations show that trade treaties nowadays entail much more than trade alone. In the context of CETA and TTIP far reaching reforms are pursued to strengthen Europe’s connection to the US and Canada. The negotiations take place behind closed doors, as a result of which very little information sees the light. But the message is clear: the costs of these trade treaties, for both people and the environment, are high.