Category Archives: Regulatory failure

DW on climate change and the possibilities for Paris

The best part about getting environmental news from the German press is that for the most part, Germans are environmentalists no matter what party they belong to.  CDU Angela Merkel leads a very right-wing government yet her environmental record easily shames Al Gore's.  The result is that environmental reporting is not beholden to, or afraid of, anyone's political agenda.  The other interesting consideration is that because environmental matters are beyond political controversy, the environmental actions they have taken include massive investments in new hardware.

Deutsche Welle's take on the possibility for meaningful action at the COP 21 conference in Paris is somewhat pessimistic.  Their complaint mirrors mine—when are people going to figure out just how big this problem is? (those are my bold italics below)

The USA press is worse than pathetic.  It has no courage in the face of political controversy.  It cannot explain how to read scientific data.  But mostly, it doesn't give a shit.  Cover a meeting in Paris dealing with a complicated subject?  Are you kidding?—there's a Kardashian posing nude somewhere.

Climate pledges leave room for improvement

Irene Quaile, 30.10.2015

A new UN report assesses the collective impact of countries’ plans to combat climate change. With the key Paris climate summit just weeks away, DW asks the experts: how serious is the world about staying cool?

The United Nations climate chief Christiana Figueres and Jochen Flasbarth from the German Federal Ministry for the Environment presented a report synthesizing the effects of countries' intended nationally determined contributions (INDCs) in Berlin on Friday. INDCs are national climate action plans, which have been submitted by governments ahead of the UN Climate Change Conference in Paris (30 November to 11 December).

The report covers 146 plans submitted to the UN up until October 1, 2015. These include all developed nations and three quarters of developing countries under the UNFCCC, covering 86 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions.

Three degrees on the horizon?

The document confirms what independent analysts have been predicting: the pledges on the table will not be enough to limit global warming to the internationally set target of a maximum of 2 degrees Celsius rise.

"The INDCs have the capability of limiting the forecast temperature rise to around 2.7 degrees Celsius by 2100," UNFCCC Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres announced in Berlin. She acknowledged this was "by no means enough but a lot lower than the estimated 4, 5, or more degrees of warming projected by many prior to the INDCs."

The UN is keen to stress that the INDCs are "not the final word," but a signal of a global move towards decarbonization and a "climate-safe future."

A "shocking"discrepancy

Figueres told journalists the national climate action plans represented a "clear and determined down-payment on a new era of climate ambition from the global community of nations."

But critical voices were also raised, as the report confirmed the so-called 'emissions gap' between what has been pledged so far and what is still needed to limit global warming. The development organization Bread for the World, described the gap between pledges and the two-degree target confirmed by the new report as shocking:
"It shows that people are evidently taking the risk of heading towards a preventable catastrophe instead of significantly reducing greenhouse gases," said the group's climate expert Sabina Minninger. She warned that increased extreme weather events would lead to famine, aggravate conflicts and increase migration.
Martin Kaiser, head of Greenpeace international climate policy, said in a statement:
"What is currently on the table can only keep the temperature rise under 3 degrees at best – and that would be double what those countries demand, that are most under threat from climate change."
Regine Guenther, climate policy director for WWF Germany stressed that the pledges made so far would not be sufficient to guard against the "most dangerous consequences of climate change." She stressed the need to focus on closing the emissions gap. The Paris agreement must include a mechanism which forces individual countries to reduce their emissions further in short intervals of five years, she said in a statement. At the same time, renewable energy would have to be expanded on a large scale through bilateral and multilateral cooperation.

2 degree target still in reach?

German climate expert Mojib Latif told DW that pledges by the world's top emitters, the USA and China were not adequate:

"Obama changed the reference year, so normally it should be 1990, but he chose 2005. That is not very honest, because the USA has increased its emissions a lot from 1990 to 2005. China is saying they will continue to increase their emissions until 2030, so they are not talking about reductions."

But Latif, and other experts and scientists agree with the UN view that it would still be possible to keep to the internationally agreed climate goal of 2 degrees if countries and industry took more ambitious action.

Latif cites Germany's energy transition as an example: "Nobody expected in the 1990s that we would meet 30 percent of our energy consumption by renewable energies."

Paris: launch pad to a fossil-free future?

Physicist Stefan Rahmstorf from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) told DW global emissions would have to start falling by 2020 at the latest:

"I think that for the risks to the climate system, things are looking more optimistic than they did a few years ago. The development of renewable energies – wind, solar and others – has really surpassed the most optimistic expectations. And so there is hope that if we really put our will to it, we will be able to stop global warming below two degrees, and hopefully well below two degrees, closer to 1.5 degrees Celsius."

Rahmstorf says although the INDCs are not enough for that target, "they are enough to really make a difference and set us on the right track of falling emissions. The hope is rising that Paris will be seen as a turning point, after which emissions start to drop globally, relatively soon."

Jennifer Morgan, global director of the Climate Program at the World Resources Institute (WRI), which follows emissions reductions with its own Climate Tracker, told DW the key to success lay in the "long-term vision" of a Paris agreement. She stressed it had to oblige countries to keep upping their commitments and set a long-term signal for decarbonizing the economy.

Gustavo Silva-Chavez, a climate and land use expert with the organization Forest Trends, stresses that some developing countries have pledged more aggressive conditional emissions reductions targets, if they are given international funding:

"Closing the 0.7 degrees Celisius gap is within reach and something that the final negotiations in Paris can potentially achieve. Ensuring that these countries have access to the finance they need should be one of the primary objectives in Paris." more

NOx and pollution control

The fuss over the failure of the auto manufacturers to comply with the diesel standards for nitrous oxides is remarkably telling.  First of all, it should be made completely clear that building automobiles remains arguably the most difficult undertaking the Producer classes ever make.  Car manufacture is more difficult than aerospace because of the sheer volume of units produced.  Building an airliner is much more akin to building a skyscraper because very few are made so many operations are allowed to be relatively inefficient.  Cars are much more difficult to make than medical devices because of the incredible cost constraints.  And of course, cars are more difficult to make than computers because cars also have computers plus everything else.

The reason the complexity of automobile manufacture is so important to remember is that these facts make a mockery of what the technologically illiterate believe about cars.  For example, there are those who think that some day, a lone inventor in a garage will make some stunning breakthrough in emissions control or fuel efficiency.  Obviously, that will never happen but the true believers will explain that is because the big boys hate honest competition and will crush the lone genius.  And now we see the environmental extremists thinking that the only reason companies are failing to comply with emissions standards is because they are greedy or are unwilling to put forth the necessary efforts.

However, when everyone seems to be failing to meet the new diesel standards, the question must be asked, "Are the standards reasonable?"  My guess is that they are not.  But the environmental bureaucrats will never admit they are wrong.  Because they refuse to admit that there are physical realities that are responsible for this outbreak of environmental lawlessness, the possibilities for real progress are likely to degenerate into expensive and pointless lawsuits.  Environmentalists are fond of pointing out that the laws of nature will ultimately trump all other considerations, yet they will not realize that they cannot regulate emissions problems out of existence by issuing mandates that are physically impossible to accomplish.

Unfortunately, there are many people who seem to believe that the problems of climate change can be solved if only we elect politicians who will enact tougher legislation to outlaw greenhouse gasses.  Such people are worse than wrong, they have delayed the possibilities for progress for at least three decades now.

Four more carmakers join diesel emissions row

Mercedes-Benz, Honda, Mazda and Mitsubishi’s cars are shown to emit significantly more NOx pollution on the road than in regulatory tests

Damian Carrington, 9 October 2015

Mercedes-Benz, Honda, Mazda and Mitsubishi have joined the growing list of manufacturers whose diesel cars are known to emit significantly more pollution on the road than in regulatory tests, according to data obtained by the Guardian.

In more realistic on-road tests, some Honda models emitted six times the regulatory limit of NOx pollution while some unnamed 4x4 models had 20 times the NOx limit coming out of their exhaust pipes.

“The issue is a systemic one” across the industry, said Nick Molden, whose company Emissions Analytics tested the cars. The Guardian revealed last week that diesel cars from Renault, Nissan, Hyundai, Citroen, Fiat, Volvo and Jeep all pumped out significantly more NOx in more realistic driving conditions. NOx pollution is at illegal levels in many parts of the UK and is believed to have caused many thousands of premature deaths and billions of pounds in health costs.

All the diesel cars passed the EU’s official lab-based regulatory test (called NEDC), but the test has failed to cut air pollution as governments intended because carmakers designed vehicles that perform better in the lab than on the road. There is no evidence of illegal activity, such as the “defeat devices” used by Volkswagen.

The new data is from Emissions Analytics’ on-the-road testing programme, which is carefully controlled and closely matches the real-world test the European commission wants to introduce. The company tested both Euro 6 models, the newest and strictest standard, and earlier Euro 5 models. Data showed that:

Mercedes-Benz’s diesel cars produced an average of 0.406g/km of NOx on the road, at least 2.2 times more than the official Euro 5 level and five times higher than the Euro 6 level. A spokesman for Mercedes-Benz said: “Since real-world driving conditions do not generally reflect those in the laboratory, the consumption figures may differ from the standardised figures.”

Honda’s diesel cars emitted 0.484g/km of NOx on average, between 2.6 and six times the official levels. A spokesman for Honda said: “Honda tests vehicles in accordance with European legislation.”

Mazda’s diesel cars had average NOx emissions of 0.293g/km in the real world, between 1.6 and 3.6 times the NEDC test levels. One Euro 6 model, the Mazda 6 2.2L 5DR, produced three times the official NOx emissions. A spokesman for Mazda said: “In compliance with the law, Mazda works hard to ensure that every petrol and diesel engine it makes fully complies with the regulations.”

Mitsubishi diesel cars produced an average of 0.274g/km of NOx, between 1.5 and 3.4 higher than in the lab. “The NEDC was never intended to represent real-world driving,” said a spokesman for Mitsubishi.

The Emissions Analytics data seen by the Guardian also found Citroen, VW and Audi NOx emissions to be higher on the road than in the EU lab test.

Molden said Emissions Analytics had analysed about 50 Euro 6 diesels and 150 Euro 5 diesels, with only five having real-world NOx levels that matched the regulatory test. The failure of the EU’s NOx test to limit real-world emissions, and tackle air pollution, has been known for some years, but specific manufacturers have not been named.

“The VW issue in the US was purely the trigger which threw light on a slightly different problem in the EU - widespread legal over-emissions,” Molden said. “For NOx, [diesel] cars are on average four times over the legal limit, because of the lenient nature of the test cycle in the EU.” The Emissions Analytics tests showed 4x4s to have the highest NOx emissions, with several unnamed models emitting 15 times official levels and one more than 20 times.

“MEPs have been fighting for years to reform EU rules on diesel emissions-testing so they reflect real-world emissions. Yet the powerful car lobby and national governments have fiercely resisted these life-saving changes,” said Catherine Bearder, a LibDem MEP and a lead negotiator in the European parliament on the EU’s new air quality law. “The people of Europe have waited long enough for cleaner air, they must not be made to wait any longer.”

Friends of the Earth air pollution campaigner Jenny Bates said: “With further manufacturers implicated, this is yet more evidence that this scandal goes way beyond VW, and should cause decisionmakers to question the very future of diesel vehicles on our roads. This is a massive public health disgrace and the failure to prevent vehicles breaking pollution rules will have cost lives.”

Two car companies, Mercedes and Honda, said that they supported a tightening of the regulations. “Mercedes-Benz emphatically supports the introduction of the WLTP test [which] is designed to supersede the NEDC, with the goal of bringing standardised and real-world consumption closer together,” said the spokesman. “To this end, we actively support the dialogue between industry (through trade group ACEA [European Automobile Manufacturers Association]) and the authorities.” Honda said it supported “additional testing in order to help strengthen regulatory and consumer confidence”.

However, in a letter seen by Reuters to EU officials, the ACEA chairman and Renault chief executive, Carlos Ghosn, said that no significant progress on NOx was possible before 2019. Reuters said that ACEA, which lobbies for Europe’s carmakers in Brussels, told the officials on 1 October that the NOx limit for a new, more realistic test should be 70% higher than today’s limit. An ACEA spokeswoman said it was “too early in the process to confirm or comment on hypothetical figures.”

“These new test results [from Emissions Analytics] prove that the Volkswagen scandal is just the tip of the iceberg. What we are seeing here is a dieselgate that covers many brands and many different car models,” said Greg Archer, an emissions expert at Transport & Environment. “The only solution is a strict new test that takes place on the road and verified by an authority not paid by the car industry.” more

Wendell Potter on free-market "medicine"

Over the years, I have found that Wendell Potter's views on the state of USA medicine most closely resemble my own.  And in the article I have reproduced below, he hits a home run because he tackles THE fundamental issue facing our thoroughly dysfunctional system—whether for-profit medicine is even medicine.  Obviously most countries do not believe a free-market system delivers good medicine.  And of course, they have a wealth of evidence to back them up.  While USA has easily the most expensive medical care on earth, the health outcomes rarely crack the top 30.

There are many reasons why for-profit medicine doesn't work very well in any other measurement than the pay scales of health-care executives or the costs of prescription drugs.  Book have been written on the subject.  My favorite reason is that when money becomes the primary outcome, it destroys the trust between a doctor and patient that lead to all sorts of bad decisions.  It doesn't take long for a patient to wonder, "Are all these expensive tests necessary to diagnose my illness or does the doctor own shares in the MRI lab?"  This is especially true if the patient is paying these crazy bills out of pocket.  The question is especially corrosive if the doctor actually does have a financial stake in a diagnostic lab.

It wasn't always this way.  Between 1971 and 73, I was sentenced to work as a surgical orderly for my "crimes" of opposing the Vietnam War.  The hospital was a big sprawling affair attached to Minnesota's primary medical school.  This teaching hospital pretty much invented open heart surgery during the 1950s so while almost all the giants had moved on or retired, the reputations still dominated the surgical suites.  Heart trays were filled with instruments named for doctors who once walked the halls.

Most of the Twin Cities hospitals in those day were either state or county institutions or were large affairs owned and run by religious organizations.  There was still a tradition that medicine was to be a benevolent affair run for the benefit of the sick.  But the big greed had already begun to set in.  The head nurse of the OR, my boss, had bought stock in Medtronic when it was still being run out of a garage.  She obviously only came to work out of love for medicine because when Medtronic had gone public, she had become a wealthy woman.  The transplant doctors were already anticipating the world they would inhabit when Medicare started paying for dialysis and transplants.  So while there were still surgeons whose big goal was to be published in the Journal of the American Medical Association for describing some breakthrough treatment, there were also the greedheads who were paying for their offshore horse ranches.

So Mr. Potter, contrary to your claim that Arnold Relman coined the term "medical-industrial complex" 35 years ago, I can assure all us conscientious objector orderlies at the UM Medical School were calling it that in 1971.  But yes, what we found disgusting and offensive was nothing compared to standard medical practice these days.

Free Market Ideology Doesn't Work For Health Care

By Wendell Potter 6/08/15

In my column last week I suggested that one of the reasons Americans tolerate paying so much more for health care than citizens of any other country — and getting less to show for it — is our gullibility. We’ve been far too willing to believe the self-serving propaganda we’ve been fed for decades by health insurers and pharmaceutical companies and every other part of the medical-industrial complex, a term New England Journal of Medicine editor Arnold Relman coined 35 years ago to describe the uniquely American health care system.

One of the other reasons we tolerate unreasonably high health care costs is gullibility’s close and symbiotic relative: blind adherence to ideology. By this I mean the belief that the free market — the invisible hand Adam Smith wrote about more than two centuries ago and that many Americans hold as a nonnegotiable tenet of faith — can work as well in health care as it can in other sectors of the economy.

While the free market is alive and well in the world’s other developed countries, leaders in every one of them, including conservatives, decided years ago that health care is different, that letting the unfettered invisible hand work its magic in health care not only doesn’t create the unintended social benefits Smith wrote about, it all too often creates unintended, seemingly intractable, social problems.

In a commentary for The Catholic Spirit, Jason Adkins, executive director of the Minnesota Catholic Conference, wrote after the 2011 government shutdown in Minnesota that, “The inability (of state lawmakers) to compromise (on the budget)…was not based so much on stubbornness or sheer partisanship as it was on adherence to ideological principle.”

He went on to note that “an almost slavish adherence to ideology in politics can and does inflict harm to the very people public officials claim to serve.”

That certainly has been the case in health care. Adherence to ideology has made it impossible for Democrats and Republicans in Washington to even have a civil conversation about how to expand access to care and reduce costs.Meanwhile, the price tags for drugs and a stay in an American hospital have become so astonishingly high they can take our breath away.

In his recent book, America’s Bitter Pill, Steven Brill described in almost painful detail his analysis of the hospital bill he received last year soon after surgery to repair an aortic aneurism. The cost of room and board alone at New York-Presbyterian hospital was $63,000. The hospital also charged thousands more for things like “patient education,” which Brill said he doesn’t even recall receiving.

As Brill noted, not only were the charges far higher than they would have been just a few years earlier, his insurance company, UnitedHealthcare — the country’s biggest — was not able to negotiate much of a deal. “UnitedHealthcare’s discount for the total of all of these crazy charges was just 12 percent!” he wrote. (Emphasis his.)

Why? Because New York-Presbyterian had become so big through mergers and acquisitions that insurance companies could not exclude them from their networks. And the hospital’s massive size meant insurance companies had little leverage to ask for substantial discounts.

Brill has feigned pity for insurers. “Nothing has been done to curb the marketplace of exorbitant bills and exorbitant profiteering on the part of hospitals, medical device makers and obviously the drug companies,” he told NPR. “They're incompetently managed; they're not very nice people when you get them on the phone. But they're sort of stuck in the same ditch we're in, which is being forced — unlike the payers for health care in any other developed country on the planet — being forced to pay uncontrolled, exorbitant prices and high profits that are generated by nonprofit hospitals and by drug companies and medical device makers. In that sense, I kind of feel sorry for them.”

At this point its worth noting that in an attempt to convince us that competition in the insurance industry is robust and proof that the free market is working, America’s Health Insurance Plans, the industry’s biggest trade group, brags that it represents more than 1,300 companies. The problem is that there are far too many insurers. There are so many that not a single one of them is big enough to reduce hospital charges the way Medicare can.

Matthew Herper, who covers science and medicine for Forbes, explained in an article last week why the free market doesn’t work in the drug industry, either. He used the skyrocketing costs of many cancer drugs to illustrate his point. When the cancer drug Gleevec was launched in 2001, it cost $24,000 a year. Fifteen years later: $90,000. “It happened partly because competition increased and, as new drugs entered the market at higher prices, Novartis raised its price, too,” Herper wrote. “The normal law of supply and demand worked in reverse.”

If it weren’t for our gullibility and our “almost slavish adherence to ideology,” we might be able to make progress on health care costs. more

Stop TiSA or we are all doomed

It is no secret that I most vociferously oppose the trade agreements that the Obama administration is trying to "fast-track."  There was a small victory the other day when the House stopped TPP fast-track on a procedural vote.  I am willing to bet that this minor set-back for the Predatory ghouls who have been using such agreements to loot the USA will be temporary at best.  Maybe I am still licking my wounds from our failure to stop NAFTA, but the question that was often asked in that fight, "How do you stop people who will stop at nothing?" still applies.

Ellen Brown notes below that of all the monstrous "trade" agreement being proposed, TiSA is the most harmful because it will effectively outlaw any sort of meaningful monetary reform.  This is a HUGE deal.  If humanity is going to seriously address the climate problem, it simply MUST come up with at LEAST $100 trillion.  Anything much less will mean that we will be trying to put out a raging house fire with a squirt gun.  And without monetary reform, getting our hands on a pile of money that size will be impossible.

So I am not kidding when I state that if a dangerous lunacy like TiSA is passed, we can kiss our collective asses goodbye.  And I can say this with a mathematical certainty.

Stealth Block to Monetary Reform

Fast-Tracking TiSA

by ELLEN BROWN, JUNE 14, 2015

It is well enough that the people of the nation do not understand our banking and monetary system, for if they did, I believe there would be a revolution before tomorrow morning.
— Attributed to Henry Ford

In March 2014, the Bank of England let the cat out of the bag: money is just an IOU, and the banks are rolling in it. So wrote David Graeber in The Guardian the same month, referring to a BOE paper called “Money Creation in the Modern Economy.” The paper stated outright that most common assumptions of how banking works are simply wrong. The result, said Graeber, was to throw the entire theoretical basis for austerity out of the window.

The revelation may have done more than that. The entire basis for maintaining our private extractive banking monopoly may have been thrown out the window. And that could help explain the desperate rush to “fast track” not only the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), but the Trade in Services Agreement (TiSA). TiSA would nip attempts to implement public banking and other monetary reforms in the bud.

The Banking Game Exposed

The BOE report confirmed what money reformers have been saying for decades: that banks do not act simply as intermediaries, taking in the deposits of “savers” and lending them to borrowers, keeping the spread in interest rates. Rather, banks actually create deposits when they make loans. The BOE report said that private banks now create 97 percent of the British money supply. The US money supply is created in the same way.

Graeber underscored the dramatic implications:
. . . [M]oney is really just an IOU. The role of the central bank is to preside over a legal order that effectively grants banks the exclusive right to create IOUs of a certain kind, ones that the government will recognise as legal tender by its willingness to accept them in payment of taxes. There’s really no limit on how much banks could create, provided they can find someone willing to borrow it.
Politically, said Graeber, revealing these facts is taking an enormous risk:
Just consider what might happen if mortgage holders realised the money the bank lent them is not, really, the life savings of some thrifty pensioner, but something the bank just whisked into existence through its possession of a magic wand which we, the public, handed over to it.
If money is just an IOU, why are we delivering the exclusive power to create it to an unelected, unaccountable, non-transparent private banking monopoly? Why are we buying into the notion that the government is broke – that it must sell off public assets and slash public services in order to pay off its debts? The government could pay its debts in the same way private banks pay them, simply with accounting entries on its books. What will happen when a critical mass of the populace realizes that we’ve been vassals of a parasitic banking system based on a fraud – that we the people could be creating money as credit ourselves, through publicly-owned banks that returned the profits to the people?

Henry Ford predicted that a monetary revolution would follow. There might even be a move to nationalize the whole banking system and turn it into a public utility.

It is not hard to predict that the international bankers and related big-money interests, anticipating this move, would counter with legislation that locked the current system in place, so that there was no way to return money and banking to the service of the people – even if the current private model ended in disaster, as many pundits also predict.

And that is precisely the effect of the Trade in Services Agreement (TiSA), which was slipped into the “fast track” legislation now before Congress. It is also the effect of the bail-in policies currently being railroaded into law in the Eurozone, and of the suspicious “war on cash” seen globally; but those developments will be the subject of another article.

TiSA Exposed

On June 3, 2015, WikiLeaks released 17 key documents related to TiSA, which is considered perhaps the most important of the three deals being negotiated for “fast track” trade authority. The documents were supposed to remain classified for five years after being signed, displaying a level of secrecy that outstrips even the TPP’s four-year classification.

TiSA involves 51 countries, including every advanced economy except the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa). The deal would liberalize global trade in services covering close to 80% of the US economy, including financial services, healthcare, education, engineering, telecommunications, and many more. It would restrict how governments can manage their public laws, and it could dismantle and privatize state-owned enterprises, turning those services over to the private sector.

Recall the secret plan devised by Wall Street and U.S. Treasury officials in the 1990s to open banking to the lucrative derivatives business. To pull this off required the relaxation of banking regulations not just in the US but globally, so that money would not flee to nations with safer banking laws. The vehicle used was the Financial Services Agreement concluded under the auspices of the World Trade Organization’s General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS). The plan worked, and most countries were roped into this “liberalization” of their banking rules. The upshot was that the 2008 credit crisis took down not just the US economy but economies globally.

TiSA picks up where the Financial Services Agreement left off, opening yet more doors for private banks and other commercial service industries, and slamming doors on governments that might consider opening their private banking sectors to public ownership.

Blocking the Trend Toward “Remunicipalization”

In a report from Public Services International called “TISA versus Public Services: The Trade in Services Agreement and the Corporate Agenda,” Scott Sinclair and Hadrian Mertins-Kirkwood note that the already formidable challenges to safeguarding public services under GATS will be greatly exacerbated by TiSA, which blocks the emerging trend to return privatized services to the public sector. Communities worldwide are reevaluating the privatization approach and “re-municipalizing” these services, following negative experiences with profit-driven models. These reversals typically occur at the municipal level, but they can also occur at the national level.

One cited example is water remunicipalization in Argentina, Canada, France, Tanzania and Malaysia, where an increasing frustration with broken promises, service cutoffs to the poor, and a lack of integrated planning by private water companies led to a public takeover of the service.

Another example is the remunicipalization of electrical services in Germany. Hundreds of German municipalities have remunicipalized private electricity providers or have created new public energy utilities, following dissatisfaction with private providers’ inflated prices and poor record in shifting to renewable energy. Remunicipalization has brought electricity prices down. Other sectors involved in remunicipalization projects include public transit, waste management, and housing.

Sinclair and Mertins-Kirkwood observe:
The TISA would limit and may even prohibit remunicipalization because it would prevent governments from creating or reestablishing public monopolies or similarly “uncompetitive” forms of service delivery. . . .

Like GATS Article XVI, the TISA would prohibit public monopolies and exclusive service suppliers in fully committed sectors, even on a regional or local level. Of particular concern for remunicipalization projects are the proposed “standstill” and “ratchet” provisions in TISA. The standstill clause would lock in current levels of services liberalization in each country, effectively banning any moves from a market-based to a state-based provision of public services. This clause . . . would prohibit the creation of public monopolies in sectors that are currently open to private sector competition.

Similarly, the ratchet clause would automatically lock in any future actions taken to liberalize services in a given country. . . . [I]f a government did decide to privatize a public service, that government would be unable to return to a public model at a later date.
That means we can forget about turning banking and credit services into public utilities. TiSA is a one-way street. Industries once privatized remain privatized.

The disturbing revelations concerning TiSA are yet another reason to try to block these secretive trade agreements. more

For more information and to get involved, visit:

Flush the TPP
The Citizens Trade Campaign
Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch
Eyes on Trade