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Environment and Climate Change (European Union Referendum)

Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament on 27th October 2016.

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Photo of Ross Greer Ross Greer Green

I thank Liam McArthur for that point and agree enthusiastically. I just feel that the amendment takes away a necessary inclusion, because the Scottish Government has an issue with being involved in the Brexit negotiations.

The European Union has been a leader in the fight against climate change and in the protection of our environment; it is not just a follower, as the Conservative motion seems to imply. David Stewart gave the example of what the EU has achieved for our beaches, which were previously polluted by sewage but have been transformed in recent decades.

However, as the Green amendment highlights, the European Union is far from perfect and should be robustly challenged on the priority that it has given to economic growth and a commitment to neoliberal economics that is incompatible with ending the climate crisis. Just today, the comprehensive economic and trade agreement has made a comeback. That trade deal between the EU and Canada places hard-won progress on environmental protections at risk. Angus MacDonald rightly raised the threat that it could pose of forcing GM crops on Scotland.

At its core, CETA is a deal that places corporate power above democracy. The proposed dispute mechanism will result in secretive corporate courts that are unaccountable to our elected Parliament. They would be able to reverse the Parliament’s decisions or even punish us for having made those decisions.

Liam McArthur asked the cabinet secretary for examples of the dire consequences of such deals. The investor-state dispute settlement mechanism, which Neil Findlay mentioned, has been used by Veolia to sue Egypt for increasing the minimum wage and by numerous energy companies to sue Argentina for freezing energy prices. The awards that have been given to multinational corporations have been eye watering. For example, the US company Occidental Petroleum won compensation of more than $1.5 billion in a claim against Ecuador.