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)

Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry | 16-Feb-2016
The Agreement stipulates rules for investment protection and the development of an investment environment.
SteelOrbis | 12-Feb-2016
Luxembourg-based pipe producer Tenaris announced it won a $172.8 million compensation for the expropriation by Venezuela of Tenaris’ and its subsidiary Talta’s interests.
Mining | 1-Feb-2016
Eligible Canadian investors with property confiscated by the government of Kazakhstan are now legally entitled to international arbitration under the Canada/USSR BIT.
Reuters | 26-Jan-2016
An international arbitrator threw out claims from two investors protesting against Spain’s 2010 cuts to renewable energy subsidies, setting a potential precedent for other lawsuits pending.
Tele Sur | 26-Jan-2016
The ruling from the District Court of the Hague in favor of U.S. oil giant Chevron effectively exonerated the company from any responsibility for remediating the contamination in the Amazon.
L’Observatoire des multinationales | 22-Jan-2016
Poursuivi par Total pour un litige fiscal lié au pétrole, l’Ouganda a rejoint le nombre des nations qui se posent la question : « Comment avons-nous jamais pu accepter l’ISDS ? »
Tico Times | 21-Jan-2016
Infinito announced that it has secured funding from a lender to continue pursuing damages stemming from Costa Rica’s cancellation of the firm’s gold mining concession in 2011.
Kapitalis | 15-Jan-2016
La Tunisie a été condamnée pour la première fois de son histoire par le Centre international pour le règlement des différends relatifs aux investissements (CIRDI).
Market Watch | 14-Jan-2016
The problem of TPP is with the “investment” chapter, which severely constrains environmental, health, and safety regulation, and even financial regulations with significant macroeconomic impacts.
Les Echos | 14-Jan-2016
L’accord sur le climat ou la création d’une nouvelle banque de développement par les BRICS l’an dernier vont influer sur 2016. Mais le vrai enjeu, moins médiatique, ce sont les accords commerciaux restrictifs qui s’annoncent.

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