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Although President Barack Obama claimed in his sixth State of the Union Address, “No challenge – no challenge – poses a greater threat to future generations than climate change,” neither climate change nor global warming are mentioned in the 2,000 pages of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement of which the president is so proud. TPP has the potential to be the most far-reaching trade agreement negotiated by the Obama administration. The 12-nation agreement, which consists of 30 chapters, mentions the environment only in general ways. For instance, one section states, it is “inappropriate to encourage trade or investment by weakening or reducing the protection afforded in [the participating countries’] respective environmental laws.” Critics argue such statements are undermined by sections stating, for instance, “The Parties recognize the sovereign right of each Party to establish its own levels of domestic environmental protection and its own environmental priorities, and to establish, adopt or modify its environmental laws and policies accordingly.”
While the House and Senate can report on the bill in committee and will ultimately vote on the trade agreement, under fast-track trade negotiating procedures they cannot amend the provisions negotiated by the U.S. Trade Representative’s office. Thus no provisions concerning climate change can be added to the agreement.