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)

Euractiv | 17-May-2022
More European Union countries have shown signs of impatience with the ongoing reform of the Energy Charter Treaty, which critics say impedes efforts to phase out fossil fuels, according to leaked diplomatic cables.
The Guardian | 17-May-2022
One of the biggest barriers will be the legal infrastructure that oil and gas companies and some coal companies have constructed to defend their investments, through treaties like the energy charter treaty.
CIAR Global | 12-May-2022
España ha sido condenada en el arbitraje con Renergy, empresa con sede en Luxemburgo, ante un panel CIADI que ha valorado las pérdidas producidas por los cambios normativos de las energías renovables en 33 millonse de dólares.
CNCD 11.11.11 | 12-May-2022
Du 16 au 20 mai 2022 a lieu le dernier cycle de négociations sur la modernisation du Traité sur la Charte de l’énergie (TCE) avant la Conférence ministérielle ad hoc du 24 juin, où l’objectif sera de conclure un accord politique sur la réforme en cours.
CIAR Global | 11-May-2022
España ha sido condenada en el arbitraje con Renergy, empresa con sede en Luxemburgo, ante un panel CIADI que ha valorado las pérdidas producidas por los cambios normativos de las energías renovables en 33 millonse de dólares.
Mongabay | 11-May-2022
Citing the free-trade agreement between Australia and Thailand, Kingsgate, announced in November 2017 that it had filed a suit against Thailand at an international arbitration tribunal.
CIAR Global | 10-May-2022
Un estudio advierte de que “La acción mundial contra el cambio climático podría generar más de 340.000 millones de dólares en reclamaciones legales de los inversores en petróleo y gas“.
CIAR Global | 9-May-2022
El gobierno de Andrés Manuel López Obrador ha ordenado el cierre de las operaciones y cierre en las extracciónes y canteras submanrinas que la compañía estadounidense Vulcan Materials Company administra en Quintana Roo, México. Y lo ha hecho en medio de un arbitraje de inversiones que mantiene con una subsidiaria de la compañía
Business & Human Rights Resource Centre | 9-May-2022
Without adequate rules and the right business incentives to protect workers and communities, trade deals can contribute to a ‘race to the bottom’.
Jones Day | 6-May-2022
ISDS is likely to be an increasingly important avenue for the resolution of climate change disputes.

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