Boris Johnson’s trade plans at G7 will be catastrophic: from the Amazon to the NHS

Saturday, 24 August, 2019
  • 'Our very survival depends on challenging this orthodoxy', campaigners say

  • Briefing: 5 ways that free trade deals accelerate climate change

Campaign group Global Justice Now lambasted the free trade policies of Boris Johnson today, claiming they represent both a threat to Britain’s public services and food system, and have brought runaway climate change a step closer.  

Ahead of Johnson’s breakfast with Donald Trump at the G7 in Biarritz tomorrow, campaigners warned that Johnson’s proposed trade deal with Trump would inevitably make Britain more unequal and less able to deal with poverty and climate change.
 
But they also took aim at the policies of all G7 countries, saying that the obsessions with free markets and ‘big business first’ trade deals was driving runaway climate change. A briefing produced by the group showed five ways that free trade deals accelerate climate change, including:

  • Promoting industrial scale agriculture and logging
  • Giving big business new powers to shape environmental policy and legally challenge governments which try to enact pro-environmental regulation
  • Making it harder for governments to limit fossil fuel-produced energy (1)

Nick Dearden, director of Global Justice Now, said:
“The economic policies of G7 countries are the key reason we face a climate emergency. The obsession with free market, free trade policies over decades has given corporations vast powers to challenge environmental regulation, public services, and balanced economies. The Amazon is just one more victim of these policies. Only a radically different policy, enacted today, can give any hope that we can step back from the abyss. Ripping up the EU-Mercosur trade deal, which will only lead to problems in the Amazon, is essential.
 
“Sadly, our own Prime Minster, Boris Johnson, is at the G7 to cosy up to climate denier Donald Trump, hoping to secure one of many free trade deals which will threaten both our ability to deal with climate change, but also our food system and our public services. Johnson’s promise to protect the NHS should be taken with a very large pinch of salt, because the threat to our health system will be written across a US-UK trade deal, from the new powers it give big pharmaceutical corporations to charge higher prices for medicines, to restrictions on preventing Big Tech companies from mining the NHS database (2).
 
“This will go well beyond a US trade deal, however. Johnson’s government is talking to countries across the world who will want to use Brexit to insist on even more damaging environmental policies from the UK. Only last week Malaysia said that reducing regulations on palm oil production would be the price of a post -Brexit free trade deal. It’s come to the point where our very survival on this planet depends upon challenging this free market orthodoxy and building a fairer society.”

Notes

  1. ‘Five reasons modern trade deals are terrible for the climate’, August 2019, https://www.globaljustice.org.uk/sites/default/files/files/resources/five_reasons_modern_trade_deals_are_terrible_for_the_climate_aug_2019.pdf
  2. Trading up for health, January 2019, https://www.tjm.org.uk/resources/reports/trading-up-for-health

 

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G7