Sept. 9 — Environmental issues in the Trans-Pacific Partnership would benefit greatly by having a standing organization to turn ideas into actions, according to a top official from a similar environmental organization established by the 1993 North American Free Trade Act.
The NAFTA-related Council for Environmental Cooperation, or CEC, has been able to effectively organize efforts such as the protection of monarch butterflies and a catalog of pollutants because of its permanent office in Montreal and a dedicated staff to carry out the ideas of the respective environmental ministers, Cesar Chavez, its executive director, said in an exclusive interview Sept. 9 with Bloomberg BNA at the organization's annual meeting in Merida, Mexico.
The organization has a council of its own, comprised of the Mexican and Canadian environmental ministers and the U.S. head of the Environmental Protection Agency, who discuss policy issues that the CEC will address. It also has an advisory committee made up of a range of private and nongovernmental experts, in addition to a secretariat that handles administrative issues and conducts environmental investigations.
“It is important because when you come from the environmental field, you are always preaching on already converted people,” said Chavez. “The ones we have to convince are the ones in the financial or trade fields. That is why it is important to bring these players in. They are indispensable.”
The theme of the CEC's annual meeting has been addressing climate change and its impact on a reduction in biodiversity, an area where the organization has been able to leverage its contacts across North America to provide information exchanges on the latest scientific developments, according to Chavez.
The TPP is a trade agreement among 12 countries, including the U.S. and Mexico, that some have praised for having an environmental chapter in the main body of the agreement, unlike NAFTA, which dealt with environmental issues in a side chapter.
While it includes a council of top-level ministers, it does not have a permanent office to oversee implementation of environmental goals—a mistake, in Chavez's view.
“The secretariat is a place where ideas come and take shape. We are the implementers and provide feedback, and we may help the ministers in providing feedback,” he said. “You have the advantage of having someone who will reflect your thoughts back to you, to provide some more perspective.”
The TPP, however, has added an important feature for addressing environmental issues that is missing in NAFTA: the inclusion of both environmental and trade ministers involved in the high-level environmental council.
Given that NAFTA will continue to be in effect even if the Trans-Pacific Partnership is ratified, Chavez anticipates the CEC continuing its work of focusing on North American environmental issues.
“I expect we will continue working between the three countries in a coordinated way, and later in the year, we will know more about the future these agreements,” Chavez said. “The ministries are helping us to let us know what they think the relationship should be.”
The original focus of the Council for Environmental Cooperation was on the impacts of trade, but it has since expanded its focus into mitigating climate change, where it works to share available data.
“We are not claiming or saying we are going to solve the problem, but we can do two or three things, such as harmonizing the information available on climate change information,” Chavez said.
He also sees opportunities for it to address the interaction between energy production and environmental issues, where conflicts over pipelines and the potential of renewable energy trade within North America are becoming increasingly important.
“If we manage to work together environment and energy, then we are heading in the right way, but it still has to be developed,” said Chavez, calling the relationship between the two one of the most pressing environmental issues. “It is one of the most important areas of coordination that is also an area of opportunity.”
To contact the reporter on this story: Emily Pickrell in Merida, Mexico, at email@example.com
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Greg Henderson at firstname.lastname@example.org
Copyright © 2016 The Bureau of National Affairs, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
All Bloomberg BNA treatises are available on standing order, which ensures you will always receive the most current edition of the book or supplement of the title you have ordered from Bloomberg BNA’s book division. As soon as a new supplement or edition is published (usually annually) for a title you’ve previously purchased and requested to be placed on standing order, we’ll ship it to you to review for 30 days without any obligation. During this period, you can either (a) honor the invoice and receive a 5% discount (in addition to any other discounts you may qualify for) off the then-current price of the update, plus shipping and handling or (b) return the book(s), in which case, your invoice will be cancelled upon receipt of the book(s). Call us for a prepaid UPS label for your return. It’s as simple and easy as that. Most importantly, standing orders mean you will never have to worry about the timeliness of the information you’re relying on. And, you may discontinue standing orders at any time by contacting us at 1.800.960.1220 or by sending an email to email@example.com.
Put me on standing order at a 5% discount off list price of all future updates, in addition to any other discounts I may quality for. (Returnable within 30 days.)
Notify me when updates are available (No standing order will be created).
This Bloomberg BNA report is available on standing order, which ensures you will all receive the latest edition. This report is updated annually and we will send you the latest edition once it has been published. By signing up for standing order you will never have to worry about the timeliness of the information you need. And, you may discontinue standing orders at any time by contacting us at 1.800.372.1033, option 5, or by sending us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Put me on standing order
Notify me when new releases are available (no standing order will be created)