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)

Politico | 13-Apr-2016
France has seized $700 million in Russian state assets at the initiative of former Yukos shareholders.
Sidney Morning Herald | 11-Apr-2016
US mining company Nucoil is using a free trade agreement to put pressure on the Australian government to pay compensation over cancelled licences.
TeleSUR | 6-Apr-2016
En Colombia más del 70 por ciento del aparato productivo se encuentra en manos de consorcios y empresas multinacionales por el Tratado de Libre Comercio de Colombia con multinacionales de EE.UU. y Canadá.
Financial Post | 6-Apr-2016
An arbitration tribunal has ordered the Venezuelan government to pay a whopping US$1.386 billion to Canadian miner Crystallex International Corp.
New Statesman | 5-Apr-2016
One element of TTIP has been largely ignored – the deal’s impact on developing countries.
Politico | 1-Apr-2016
New York-based Dominion Minerals Corporation decided to move ahead with an investor-state dispute case against the Panamanian government.
Dinero | 1-Apr-2016
Una ola de demandas billonarias contra el país por incumplir los TLC y los acuerdos de protección a la inversión amenaza con poner al Estado contra las cuerdas. Glencore, Eco Oro, Cosigo y Claro ya iniciaron los procesos. ¿Qué tan grave es el problema?
Colombia Informa | 31-Mar-2016
Después de que la Corte Constitucional dictara un fallo a favor de una demanda interpuesta por congresistas del Polo Democrático, en la que se impide hacer minería en zonas de Páramos, la multinacional canadiense Eco Oro Minerals Corp, ha anunciado la intención de demandar a Colombia bajo el capítulo de inversión del TLC entre Canadá y Colombia.
RECALCA | 30-Mar-2016
El caso fue dado a conocer por el sitio Primera Página. ”Se trata de Cosigo, de su filial en Colombia y de Tobie Mining and Energy, que decidieron llevar a Colombia bajo una demanda de arbitraje ante principal órgano jurídico central del sistema de las Naciones Unidas en el ámbito del derecho mercantil internacional (que preside Colombia)”.
AIDA | 18-Mar-2016
High-altitude wetlands that provide drinking water to more than two million people could become one of the world’s biggest gold and silver mines.

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