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)

Financial Post | 16-Oct-2015
Pickens is using his rights under the North American Free Trade Agreement to bring claims against the Canadian province of Ontario.
CEO | 12-Oct-2015
EU trade deals with Canada and the US could endanger citizens’ rights to basic services like water and health, as negotiators are doing the work of some of the EU’s most powerful corporate lobby groups in pushing an aggressive market opening agenda in the public sector.
AITEC | 12-Oct-2015
Les services publics de l’Union européenne se trouvent sous la menace des accords de commerce transatlantiques, et ce au profit des multinationales.
The Global Legal Post | 6-Oct-2015
The bankruptcy of oil and gas giant Yukos led to multiple proceedings against the Russian state and some enormous awards.
Focus Online | 30-Sep-2015
Rankin acted on behalf of an American mining corporation in its successful bid to sue Canada using NAFTA.
Bretton Woods Project | 30-Sep-2015
This briefing finds significant ICSID bias in favour of corporations and commercial interests by analysing ICSID overall and by looking at a specific case brought by a global mining corporation against El Salvador.
The Argentina Independent | 29-Sep-2015
El Salvador is defending itself against a US$301m lawsuit filed after it blocked a mining project to protect the country’s heavy-polluted water supply. The imminent verdict will set a precedent amid a growing trend of companies suing governments when they can’t exploit their natural resources.
Tele Sur | 25-Sep-2015
Canadians must now counter Chevron’s inevitable propaganda campaign as the legal battle continues.
Le Conseil des Canadiens | 22-Sep-2015
Un récent rapport innove en proposant une disposition de dérogation qui permettrait aux États signataires d’un accord commercial d’appliquer des politiques en matière d’environnement et de changements climatiques sans craindre de s’exposer à des poursuites en vertu de la disposition relative au règlement des différends entre investisseurs et États.
The Council of Canadians | 22-Sep-2015
A new report formulates an innovative trade deal exemption clause that allows countries to pursue environmental and climate change policy free from the chilling effects resulting from investor-state dispute settlement provisions in trade agreements.

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