Green Consumerism

The United States – Land of the Free Should Embrace Freedom

When it comes to free trade and respecting the rights of consumers, the United States government is better than most national governments.  But in certain areas, it has bowed to trendy (albeit ill-informed) causes as well as industry and activist pressure. It has turned its back on open markets and the interests of American consumers.

Consider updates to The Lacey Act that were passed in 2008 that put significant obstacles to trade in wood products.

Here you see the handiwork of the Empires of Collusion in a neat microcosm.  Who are the supporters of the Lacey Act amendments?  They include extreme green groups such as Greenpeace as well as the American Forest and Paper Association, a domestic industry representative.

It includes the World Wildlife Fund, another radical environmental group and the United Steelworkers, a union peddling protectionism.

It includes Friends of the Earth (with the fitting acronym FOE) as well as the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, a thuggish union.

Industry, unions, green NGOs – the Empires of Collusion joining together to raise prices and eliminate choices for consumers.

Against this deeply troubling collaborative effort stands CAGP.  We are advocating a repeal of the Lacey Act amendments so that global free trade can be rightfully restored.

Europe – Driving the Anti-Trade Bus

The attack on trade in paper and forest products from tropical Asia gets much of its energy from Europe.  European green groups have spearheaded protests and campaigns to block trade. European agri-business, forest, and paper companies have lobbied policymakers to protect them from the competition. European retailers have caved to pressure and have boycotted products developed in China, Indonesia and Malaysia.

On one hand this is not surprising.  Europe has always been an uncertain friend to trade.  For generations, it has offered absurd subsidies to keep afloat uncompetitive agricultural businesses.

But the entity created to open and expand trade – the World Trade Organization – is headquartered in Europe.  And so Europe is a fitting arena for consumers’ voices to be heard on these issues.

The chief bureaucratic villain in Europe today is an “Action Plan” called FLEGT – the Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade. This plan, drafted and expanded with the help of the Empires of Collusion, lays out measures whereby the European Commission can block trade in forest products from the developing world. Under a banner of sustainability, the EC says it is attempting to halt illegal logging. But this is a straw man. It is a naked protectionist measure in a green veil.

FLEGT is really an opaque bureaucratic process where the end result is harm to consumers – in higher prices and restricted choice. CAGP will shed greater light on FLEGT and its illegal attempts to block free trade.

Europe Union’s Renewable Energy Directive

RED requires E.U. member states to replace 10% of their transport fuel with renewable fuels, primarily biofuels.

To assuage fears raised by Environmental Nongovernmental Organizations about the potential destruction of rainforest to produce biofuels, the E.U. Commission in its implementing regulations has moved to create sustainability criteria that would discriminate against non-European biofuels, including its largest vegetable oil import, palm oil.

European companies that produce competing agricultural commodities, aided by Green NGOs, have lobbied their governments to impose trade restrictions against lower-cost products from the developing world.

The arbitrary nature of the sustainability criteria – excusing Europe’s failure to fully reforest its land while singling out multiple use forestry practices in developing countries such as Malaysia and Indonesia – make the proposed rules suspect under World Trade Organization rules.

Indonesia, for example, has set aside 25% of its land for forest conservation, while Malaysia has set aside more than 50% of its. Europe’s average is around 25%.

Meanwhile, palm oil requires a fifth to a ninth the amount of land to produce the same amount of energy as other biofuels such as soybeans, sunflower or rapeseed and produces five to eight times more energy per energy input than such fuels.

RED in setting arbitrary certification rules, restrict imports of commodities by imposing more onerous environmental standards on foreign biofuels than on biofuels produced in the EU, such as rapeseed oil.

This is nothing more than a trade barrier erected by the European Union favoring less efficient, more environmentally damaging European biofuel crops, at the expense of developing countries.

Such blatant EU protectionism that undermines sustainable, private sector-led development and economic growth in Indonesia and elsewhere is reprehensible and indefensible.