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)

Save Roșia Montană | 7-Oct-2016
In disregard with official requests, Romania’s government and Gabriel Resources decided to play out their dispute behind closed doors.
El Heraldo | 6-Oct-2016
La multinacional llevará el conflicto al tribunal de arbitraje del Centro Internacional de Arreglo de Diferencias Relativas a Inversiones (CIADI), del grupo del Banco Mundial.
Sierra Club | 3-Oct-2016
Looming trade deals threaten efforts to keep fossil fuels in the ground
Junior Mining | 30-Sep-2016
Gabriel Resources announces an update in relation to its ongoing bilateral investment treaty arbitration against Romania proceeding under the auspices of the World Bank’s ICSID.
ICSID | 30-Sep-2016
The hearing on jurisdiction, merits and quantum in Vattenfall AB and others v. Federal Republic of Germany is scheduled to take place before a three-member arbitral tribunal from Monday, October 10, 2016 through Friday, October 21, 2016.
Friends of the Earth Canada | 30-Sep-2016
Some of Canada’s largest environmental, labor and civil society organizations have now joined the growing international community demanding that Chevron clean up its toxic waste in the Ecuadorian Amazon.
Ecelaw | 29-Sep-2016
Federal Court of Canada rejects Bilcon’s application to stay proceedings, denying the Delaware company an early pay day.
The Globe and Mail | 29-Sep-2016
The latest salvo in a marathon multibillion-dollar legal battle between global energy giant Chevron Corp. and a group of Ecuadorean residents over environmental damage has begun in a Toronto court.
Oneworld | 27-Sep-2016
The so-called “ISDS” has been existing for years already. A revealing look in the hidden world of investor-state dispute settlement.

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