Save hundreds of pounds by pissing off a Tory!

Look, this gets pretty long so here’s the tl;dr version: Swedish energy company taking German government to tribunal for billions, this is what TTIP will allow American companies (less controlled by their government than the Swedes) to do here, you might find it hard to care but if you don’t it will end up costing you real money – plus the demise of the NHS, social justice and the environment. Yes really. Now read on.

It’s pretty hard to build up a head of steam over news that a Swedish energy firm are planning to take the German government to arbitration over restructuring of the nation’s long-term energy plan. Perhaps if we said that a sinister cabal of powerful billionaires and corrupt politicians were conspiring to steal from the entire population of Europe it might have more of a sexy, Bond movie ring to it?

Of course, that sounds like a wildly exaggerated claim. The problem with throwing the term conspiracy around is that it makes you a conspiracy theorist and, as we know only too well, they’re all nuttier than a vegan’s colon.

The only thing more annoying than a conspiracy loon is some dull prick banging on about some obscure bit of legislation and asking you to write to your MP.

Here’s the thing. There’s no conspiracy – the wrongdoing is being done in the cold light of day, reported in the papers and debated in parliaments. Here’s the other thing, yes, it’s dull and difficult to tell the bullshit from the real arguments but the bottom line is this – if you don’t take an interest, it’s going to cost you money – as well as dealing another blow to the environment, social care, the poor and all that other whiny crap that everyone’s sick of hearing. Money. It’s going to cost you actual money.

After Fukushima the Germans took a long, hard look at their energy policy. “You know…” they said, “Ven ve decided our aging reactors could haf zer lifetimes extended beyond ze original designs, perhaps ve vere a little hasty…” Thus, admittedly at the behest of political expediency, a new energy policy based on, of all things, sustainability was born – phasing out nuclear power and coal generation in favour of renewables. Now the companies that invested in building those power plants are using investment protection treaties to take the German government to court for billions of Euros.

In case you’re wondering what that’s all about, there are various agreements set up by governments across the world to protect huge investments in things like nuclear power stations, the arms trade and other flowers of society. There are lots of different arrangements depending on what you’re selling to whom and for how much but in short, the agreements all hinge around you getting your money back if the deal goes squiffy. Now here’s the thing: if I buy a house thinking that I’ll do it up and sell it on and then the property market takes a dive, I can’t sue the government for letting interest rates rise. An investment is by nature a gamble. If you want the big rewards, you have to take the big risks. Especially when you’re doing it with nuclear energy, which already receives the sort of subsidy that makes the Windsors look like the Royle family. (See what I did there? That’s prose comedy for you.)

What’s going on with the German government and Vattenfall, the Swedes in question, and Eon, as it happens, is a blueprint for the kind of thing that the TTIP is all about. Big investors will be able to take governments to tribunals held behind closed doors and effectively sue them for profits lost as a result of changes in policy. So if a company sues a country of about 30 million taxpayers for over 4 billion Euros, how much will that cost each one? Well, that’s a little over 100 Euros each for Vattenfall alone. It’s all going to mount up if every company with big stakes in non-renewable energy is queued up with a lawsuit. Vattenfall could, in fact, seek a legal decision to force Germany to reverse its energy policy. So, big business forcing a government to reverse a move towards sustainability in pursuit of short term profit. (there’s a commentary on the ramifications of the case here – it’s a .pdf, the link is safe).

This is exactly the kind of thing that the hoo-ha about TTIP is trying to draw attention to and if you believe politicians telling you that it’s for the public good, via the false idol of ‘economic growth’ LOOK WHAT’S HAPPENING TO THE GERMANS!

It’s not as if protection of large scale investment hasn’t sullied this country enough – look at the damage that the Export Credit Guarantee Agreement is doing via the arms trade.

You can join a campaign to try to persuade Vattenfall, Eon and co to adopt some basic human decency, please do, and the anti TTIP campaigns of you’ve not been convinced so far. Better still, write to your MP! It doesn’t take long, you can use this excellent crib sheet from War on Want to help you keep your facts straight and at the very least rest in the warm glow that comes from forcing a tory landowner to get his assistant to make an intern write a letter. Seriously, it’s in their job to reply to you, even if they are just fobbing you off (they are) the more of us that write, the more they’ll realise that they have to take us seriously.

Oh, and vote. Preferably Green.

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