Energy & environment

Most investor-state disputes (ISDS) have concerned environmental matters. Corporations are using the ISDS system found in trade and investment agreements to challenge environmental policies. As of end of 2019, 41% of all ICSID cases were energy and natural resources-related.

Most well-known cases include:

• Lone Pine Resources (US) vs. Canada: the investor challenged Quebec’s moratorium on the controversial practice of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, for natural gas. The provincial government declared the moratorium in 2011 so as to conduct an environmental impact assessment of the extraction method widely accused of leaching chemicals and gases into groundwater and the air. Case pending (NAFTA invoked).

• Bilcon (US) vs. Canada: the US industry challenged Canadian environmental requirements affecting their plans to open a basalt quarry and a marine terminal in Nova Scotia. In 2015 the ISDS tribunal decided that the government’s decision hindered the investors’ expectations. Bilcon won and received US$7 million in damages, plus interest (NAFTA invoked).

• Vattenfall (Sweden) vs. Germany: in 2007 the Swedish energy corporation was granted a provisional permit to build a coal-fired power plant near the city of Hamburg. In an effort to protect the Elbe river from the waste waters dumped from the plant, environmental restrictions were added before the final approval of its construction. The investor initiated a dispute, arguing it would make the project unviable. The case was ultimately settled in 2011, with the city of Hamburg agreeing to the lowering of environmental standards (ECT invoked).

Photo: Kris Krug / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

(March 2020)

IISD | 6-Jul-2022
Le différend portait sur un investissement réalisé par Westmoreland Coal Company, une entreprise enregistrée aux États-Unis, dans deux entreprises canadiennes en avril 2014.
IISD | 6-Jul-2022
The dispute pertained to an investment made by Westmoreland Coal Company, a US‑incorporated company, in two Canadian enterprises in April 2014.
IISD | 6-Jul-2022
Experts took particular concern with the fact that most investment treaties do not oblige arbitrators to take into account international agreements on climate change when adjudicating cases.
IISD | 6-Jul-2022
Les experts se sont dit particulièrement préoccupés par le fait que la plupart des traités d’investissement ne contraignent pas les arbitres à tenir compte des accords internationaux sur le changement climatique.
SeeNews | 5-Jul-2022
UK-listed Ascent Resources and its Slovenian joint venture partner Geoenergo have initiated the mediation process under a dispute resolution mechanism.
Cambridge University Press | 30-Jun-2022
There is a great threat posed by the potential use of ISDS by the fossil fuel industry to stall action on climate change.
LSE | 30-Jun-2022
Climate-related ISDS indicate a real risk that significant resources and energy may be diverted away from climate action, impacting the popularity of pro-climate policymaking among both policymakers and the public.
Ecologistas en Acción | 29-Jun-2022
Finalizan las negociaciones para reformar el Tratado de la Carta de la Energía con la adopción de un acuerdo inaceptable. La Comisión Europea ha ignorado la petición del Parlamento Europeo, del Gobierno español y del parlamento holandés, de iniciar la salida conjunta del Tratado.
IISD | 28-Jun-2022
The new "agreement in principle" for a modernized Energy Charter Treaty (ECT) falls short of pledges to make the trade and investment deal better suited to achieving international climate goals, IISD experts say.
CMS Law-Now | 27-Jun-2022
In a award, made in Green Power Partners K/S and SCE Solar Don Benito APS v Spain, a tribunal unanimously denied its jurisdiction over an intra-EU investment dispute arising under the Energy Charter Treaty.

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