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)

Reuters | 8-Feb-2023
The European Commission has told member countries that a joint EU exit from a controversial international energy treaty appears inevitable.
Zone Bourse | 8-Feb-2023
Berkeley a déclaré qu’elle estime également que le rejet n’est pas légal car il a empiété sur ses droits en vertu d’un accord international connu sous le nom de Traité sur la Charte de l’énergie.
Mining.com | 8-Feb-2023
Berkeley said it also believes the rejection is not legal as it infringed on its rights under an international agreement known as the Energy Charter Treaty.
Collectif Stop CETA Mercosur | 3-Feb-2023
Le retrait de la France du Traité sur la Charte de l’Energie sera effectif au 8 décembre 2023, une fois passé le délai d’un an depuis la date où la notification du retrait a été enregistrée.
Reuters | 3-Feb-2023
Croatia will pay $255.7 million to Hungarian oil and gas company MOL under a ruling in an arbitration case at the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes.
The Hill Times | 25-Jan-2023
Controversial ISDS provisions are trumpeted for protecting Canadian foreign investments, but are panned for allowing companies to sue countries.
Saskia Bricmont | 25-Jan-2023
This report analyzes the proposed interpretive guidance on the Investment Chapter of the Comprehensive Economic and Trade agreement (CETA) between Canada and the European Union.
Saskia Bricmont | 25-Jan-2023
La déclaration en voulant clarifier les choses crée de nouvelles zones de flou et, en définitive, tout dépend de la conception que les arbitres devant régler un différend précis se font du lien entre la transition et la protection des investissements.
Euractiv | 25-Jan-2023
Since October 2022, seven EU member states have announced plans to withdraw from the European Charter Treaty. Across the board, the message is clear: the insufficient and potentially climate-damaging treaty reform effort is no longer a politically viable option.

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