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)

Peru this Week | 25-Jul-2016
“We hope that after the decision, the State will concentrated its efforts to provide a sustainable solution to the environmental pollution in the city La Oroya.”
Reuters | 23-Jul-2016
Ecuador has paid $112 million to energy company Chevron Corp over a four-decade-old contract dispute, even though it remains in disagreement, the head of the central bank has said.
Reuters | 19-Jul-2016
A World Bank panel rejected a lawsuit filed against Peru by New York-based Renco Group Inc on technical grounds.
El Comercio | 18-Jul-2016
Controversia se relaciona a operaciones y medidas de remediación ambiental en el complejo metalúrgico, precisó el MEF.
Equities | 15-Jul-2016
The Ontario Superior Court of Justice ruled that Centerra Gold shares are the property of Kyrgyzaltyn JSC not the Kyrgyz Republic.
The Economic Times | 13-Jul-2016
Cairn Plc has claimed compensation of $5.6 billion from India in legal proceedings against the retrospective tax demand.
CSR Strategy Group | 8-Jul-2016
Chevron shareholders remain wary of the risks from an $11 billion judgment against the company in Ecuador. They also continue to be critical of Chevron management’s mishandling of the case.
Reuters | 5-Jul-2016
French oil major Total has filed a request for arbitration against Algeria for changing profit-sharing terms on oil and gas contracts in the mid-2000s
Le Monde | 4-Jul-2016
Total vient, en toute discrétion, d’engager un contentieux contre l’Algérie et sa compagnie pétrolière d’Etat, la Sonatrach.
AFL-CIO | 29-Jun-2016
Brooke Guven (Colombia Center on Sustainable Investment) talks about investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) at AFL-CIO conference on trade.

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