Bookmark and Share

 



Eyes on Trade

Public Citizen's Global Trade Watch blog on globalization and trade

 

What's New - Global Trade Watch


View 'What's New' Archives


Public Citizen | WTO and the Environment, Health and Safety - WTO and Environment, Health & Safety

WTO and Environment, Health & Safety

Latest News: The WTO and Climate Change

"Cooling the Planet Without Chilling Trade" - Washington Post op-ed by Lori Wallach and C. Fred Bergsten

GTW Report: Presidential Candidates' Key Proposals on Health Care and Climate Will Require WTO Modifications (PDF)

Nearly a decade and a half of the WTO's operation have produced ample evidence that the WTO has undermined health, safety and environmental standards, human rights advocacy efforts, and democratic accountability in policy-making in the U.S. and worldwide. The newest environmental casualty of the WTO - as addressed by GTW's Lori Wallach and the Peterson Institute for International Economics' C. Fred Bergsten in a joint Washington Post op-ed - could be efforts to address the imminent climate change crisis.

Historically, the Venezuela Gas, Tuna-Dolphin and Shrimp-Turtle cases revealed a systemic bias in the WTO rules and the WTO dispute resolution process against the rights of sovereign states to enact and effectively enforce environmental laws. All three cases led to the weakening of the U.S. laws in question.

  • Case 1: U.S. weakens the Clean Air Act to comply with Venezuela Gas WTO ruling. The U.S. implemented the WTO ruling by replacing U.S. gasoline cleanliness regulations with a policy that the U.S. government previously had estimated would produce a five percent to seven percent increase in annual emissions of nitrous oxide from imported gasoline.

  • Case 2: U.S. dolphin protection laws undermined. After years of sustained trade law challenges, the Bush administration decided to quietly implement a change to a “dolphin safe” labeling policy which Mexico had demanded as necessary to implement a GATT ruling. (Mexico had threatened a new WTO case if their demands were not met). On New Years Eve 2002, when few Americans were focused on policy matters, the Bush administration announced that it would change the “Flipper-friendly” tuna policy to allow the “dolphin-safe” label to be used on tuna caught using deadly purse seine nets and dolphin encirclement. This regulation is now being challenged in federal court.

  • Case 3: U.S. weakens sea turtle protections in the U.S. Endangered Species Act. When the WTO ruled against U.S. Endangered Species Act rules protecting sea turtles from getting killed in shrimpers’ nets, the U.S. complied with the WTO order by replacing the requirement that all countries seeking to sell shrimp in the U.S. had to ensure that their shrimpers used turtle exclusion devices. The new policy is based on an unenforceable rule that allows into the U.S. all shrimp carried by any ship with turtle protection technology, regardless of whether the ship had actually caught the shrimp.

Copyright © 2014 Public Citizen. Some rights reserved. Non-commercial use of text and images in which Public Citizen holds the copyright is permitted, with attribution, under the terms and conditions of a Creative Commons License. This Web site is shared by Public Citizen Inc. and Public Citizen Foundation. Learn More about the distinction between these two components of Public Citizen.


Public Citizen, Inc. and Public Citizen Foundation

 

Together, two separate corporate entities called Public Citizen, Inc. and Public Citizen Foundation, Inc., form Public Citizen. Both entities are part of the same overall organization, and this Web site refers to the two organizations collectively as Public Citizen.

Although the work of the two components overlaps, some activities are done by one component and not the other. The primary distinction is with respect to lobbying activity. Public Citizen, Inc., an IRS § 501(c)(4) entity, lobbies Congress to advance Public Citizen’s mission of protecting public health and safety, advancing government transparency, and urging corporate accountability. Public Citizen Foundation, however, is an IRS § 501(c)(3) organization. Accordingly, its ability to engage in lobbying is limited by federal law, but it may receive donations that are tax-deductible by the contributor. Public Citizen Inc. does most of the lobbying activity discussed on the Public Citizen Web site. Public Citizen Foundation performs most of the litigation and education activities discussed on the Web site.

You may make a contribution to Public Citizen, Inc., Public Citizen Foundation, or both. Contributions to both organizations are used to support our public interest work. However, each Public Citizen component will use only the funds contributed directly to it to carry out the activities it conducts as part of Public Citizen’s mission. Only gifts to the Foundation are tax-deductible. Individuals who want to join Public Citizen should make a contribution to Public Citizen, Inc., which will not be tax deductible.

 

To become a member of Public Citizen, click here.
To become a member and make an additional tax-deductible donation to Public Citizen Foundation, click here.