By Eva McCarthy
With the discussion of a trade deal between the EU and the U.S. back on the table, the EU faces a crucial decision about whether to prioritise its environmental obligations or future impacts on trade. The EU has stated that it cannot trade with a country outside of the Paris Agreement. But if one of the largest trading markets pulls out of the Paris Agreement and threatens to increase tariffs on EU imports, the EU’s agenda to uphold the Paris Agreement will be seriously tested.
The controversial free trade deal between the EU and the U.S., known as the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), has already been years in development but was halted by protests from left leaning members of the European Parliament and the public (Keating, 2018). Protestors said that a trade agreement with the U.S. would require the EU to lower its environmental, health and safety standards to American levels (Keating, 2018). In 2015 the EU signed the legally binding Paris Agreement, with the goal of keeping the increase in global average temperature to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels (European Commission, 2018). The Trump administration has threatened to withdraw from this agreement, in November 2020, when the treaty rules allow (Keating, 2018).