France will refuse to ratify the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) between the European Union and Canada without a guarantee that the massive deal won’t conflict with policies and regulations to address climate change.
“We will put in place what you might call a form of climate veto,” said French Environment Minister Nicolas Hulot. “This would assure that from the moment the measures are put in place, our climate commitments could in no case be attacked by investors, notably in arbitration tribunals.”
Environmentalists have “raised concerns over whether powerful multinationals would sue governments over environment and health regulations, and their ability to use this clause for leverage to pressure governments against environmental measures,” UN Climate Action notes. That concern was affirmed by an independent expert commission established by France’s new government in June.
“There is obviously a tension between the risk of protectionist instrumentalization of environmental and health policies on the one hand, and the risk that private interests will question existing public regulations and block their reinforcement,” the expert report stated. It adds that “nothing is in place to limit trade of fossil fuels and the increase of emissions from the international sea and air transport sectors.”
Hulot stated that “no restrictive engagement was noted” in the report. “It’s not only an issue of new risks introduced, but mainly an issue of lost opportunities.”