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)

ICLG | 23-Nov-2021
On 1 September 2021, Angola’s National Assembly ratified the International Convention on the Settlement of Investment Disputes between States and Nationals of Other States (ICSID).
EU Observer | 18-Nov-2021
The Belgian Appeal Court delivered a landmark ruling in what Kazakhstan’s legal representatives described as "one of the biggest frauds in the history of international arbitration."
Courthouse News | 17-Nov-2021
An American energy firm accuses Canada of violating the North American Free Trade Agreement, which has since been replaced by a new free trade deal.
Romania-Insider | 17-Nov-2021
The court accepted Roşia Montana’s inclusion on the UNESCO heritage list as a piece of evidence, as an argument for the "bad faith of the Romanian state" invoked by the Canadian company.
France 24 | 16-Nov-2021
Governments which enact climate legislation risk being sued for trillions of dollars by fossil fuel companies seeking compensation for lost revenue and stranded assets.
Sud Ouest | 16-Nov-2021
Au fur et à mesure que les pays diminuent la part des énergies fossiles, les géants du pétrole ou du charbon ont recours à des tribunaux d’arbitrage qui leur permettent de poursuivre les Etats.
AFTINET | 8-Nov-2021
In a significant step forward in the campaign against Investor-State Dispute Settlements (ISDS), Australia has announced its withdrawal from its signatory status to the Energy Charter Treaty.
Le Figaro | 5-Nov-2021
La Cour suprême néerlandaise a annulé la condamnation de Moscou à verser 50 milliards de dollars d’indemnisation aux ex-actionnaires de l’ancien géant pétrolier Ioukos.
The Moscow Times | 5-Nov-2021
The Dutch supreme court overturned an order for Russia to pay $50 billion to former shareholders in dismantled oil giant Yukos, but shunted the lengthy legal saga back to a lower court for more hearings.
The Guardian | 4-Nov-2021
Treaty allows energy corporations to sue governments for billions over policies that could hurt their profits.

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