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)

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.
Novethic | 27-Jun-2022
Critiqué depuis des années, le Traité sur la charte de l’énergie faisait l’objet d’une refonte depuis 2018. Malgré la pression, la Commission européenne a choisi de rester dans le TCE, moyennant quelques amendements.
The Guardian | 27-Jun-2022
1994 agreement allows investors to sue governments for changes in energy policy that harm their profits.
FranceInfo | 23-Jun-2022
Critiqué par les climatologues comme par les organisations environnementales, ce traité signé dans les années 1990 fait l’objet d’une ultime réunion de négociations entre pays européens.
Le Monde | 21-Jun-2022
Cinq jeunes Européens devaient porter plainte, mardi, devant la Cour européenne des droits de l’homme contre plusieurs Etats signataires de cet accord, estimant qu’il ne permet pas le respect de l’accord de Paris sur la lutte contre le réchauffement climatique.
The Guardian | 21-Jun-2022
Five claimants aged 17-31 want their governments to exit the energy charter treaty, which compensates oil and gas firms.
RTBF | 17-Jun-2022
La demande de la Belgique met en question l’arbitrage des litiges entre un investisseur d’un État membre de l’UE qui attaquerait un autre État membre de l’UE sur base du futur traité modernisé sur la Charte de l’énergie.
La Red 21 | 15-Jun-2022
Las grandes petroleras están usando una herramienta legal poco conocida para el público en general, argumentando que las acciones contra el cambio climático afectan sus ganancias.
Sierra | 14-Jun-2022
How investor-friendly trade agreements might squelch government efforts to halt oil and gas expansion.

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