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)

The Guardian | 27-Apr-2016
US oil company wanted EU-US trade deal to give foreign investors the legal right to challenge government decision, documents show
Vanguardia | 22-Apr-2016
Por cuenta de la globalización en el comercio, muchas cosas han cambiado en los trámites del país y buen número de entidades estatales no se ha percatado de ello.
New York Times | 21-Apr-2016
In a major victory for the Russian government, a Dutch court overturned an award of more than $50 billion to former shareholders of the defunct oil company Yukos.
Sputnik | 21-Apr-2016
Un tribunal de la Haye a reconnu que la Cour d’arbitrage de La Haye, qui a condamné la Russie à verser 50 milliards de dollars aux anciens actionnaires de la compagnie Ioukos, n’avait pas les compétences nécessaires à ces fins.
The Ecologist | 15-Apr-2016
The latest country to be hooked under ’free trade’ agreements is Colombia sued for tens of billions of dollars for valuing its national parks and the high-altitude Andean wetlands that provide 70% of the nation’s water above the profits of foreign corporations.
Financial Post | 15-Apr-2016
Crystallex International Corp. completed the easy part: It won an arbitration award against Venezuela worth nearly US$1.4 billion. Now comes the hard part: actually collecting that money.
Rebelión | 14-Apr-2016
On 24 July 2015, Costa Rica requested the termination of the arbitral proceedings that the Canadian Mining company, Infinito Gold filed with the Centre for the Settlement of Disputes between Foreign Investors and States.
Reporterre | 14-Apr-2016
Threats against environmental directives, legal arbitration against States, the growth of trade generating CO2… while discussions between the United States and the European Union continue, the author of this article demonstrates that this treaty is incompatible with the Paris Agreement on Climate.
Moscow Times | 14-Apr-2016
Russian space agency Roscosmos has won a court action in France concerning $700 million in payments owed to the company, which were seized by French authorities.
Sputnik | 14-Apr-2016
L’agence spatiale russe Roskosmos a gagné le procès en France dans l’affaire de la saisie des comptes de la société d’Etat dans le cadre de l’affaire Ioukos.

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