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)

Reuters | 25-Feb-2016
Venezuela and Canadian mining company Gold Reserve signed a memorandum of understanding to settle a protracted arbitration dispute over a gold concession.
Ecoticias | 24-Feb-2016
La primera jornada de las debates se ha abierto con la protesta de la ONG Greenpeace, después de que una treintena de activistas de siete países, entre ellos varios españoles, se hayan encadenado a la entrada del centro de conferencias donde tiene lugar el encuentro, según ha informado la organización en un comunicado.
Reporterre | 23-Feb-2016
Menaces contre les directives environnementales, arbitrage juridique contre les États, accroissement des échanges générateur de CO2… Ce traité est incompatible avec l’accord de Paris sur le climat.
ICTSD | 23-Feb-2016
The case concerns a moratorium imposed in 2011 by the Canadian province of Ontario on offshore wind energy generation projects, citing public concerns and scientific uncertainties about the health, safety, and environmental effects.
CNN | 22-Feb-2016
This threat to the law and to democratic processes has no place in a 21st century trade agreement and should be removed before these agreements can be seriously considered.
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.

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