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)

Business & Human Rights Resource Centre | 24-Nov-2015
The smoke haze that has engulfed Singapore, Malaysia and other parts of Southeast Asia for two months could violate international law and be the subject of an investment treaty claim against Indonesia.
L’Economiste | 23-Nov-2015
Avec la procédure engagée actuellement au Cirdi, l’actionnaire majoritaire espère obtenir le gel du paiement des dettes.
Fox | 23-Nov-2015
President Rafael Correa said that Ecuador had "practically" reached agreement on the payment of compensation to U.S. oil company Occidental Petroleum.
CIEL | 19-Nov-2015
Like TPP, U.S. free trade agreement (FTA) formed in the past two decades have similarly promised meaningful and enforceable labor and environmental safeguards.
Public Citizen | 6-Nov-2015
Long-awaited text reveals gaps between Administration claims and actual TPP terms on key public concerns
Todd N. Tucker | 4-Nov-2015
Ecuador has been partially relieved of its debt to Occidental, which constitutes a pretty legalistic and conservative application of property rights by a state appointee dissenter.
Lexology | 4-Nov-2015
The number of claims filed by renewable energy investors under the Energy Charter Treaty (ECT) has risen significantly.
Connaissance des énergies | 3-Nov-2015
Le tribunal d’arbitrage de la Banque Mondiale, le Cirdi, a ordonné à l’Equateur de payer 1 milliard de dollars à la compagnie pétrolière américaine Oxy, pour rupture anticipée d’un contrat d’exploitation
Reuters | 3-Nov-2015
A World Bank tribunal reduced to about $1 billion the amount Ecuador must pay Occidental Petroleum Corp in compensation for seizing the U.S.-based company’s assets
Reuters | 2-Nov-2015
Ecuador is in talks with Occidental Petroleum Corp to seek an agreement over a roughly $1.77 billion award the Andean country was ordered to pay for seizing the U.S.-based company’s assets in 2006

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