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 | 3-Nov-2015
A World Bank tribunal reduced to about $1 billion the amount Ecuador must pay Occidental Petroleum Corp in compensation for seizing the U.S.-based company’s assets
Reuters | 2-Nov-2015
Ecuador is in talks with Occidental Petroleum Corp to seek an agreement over a roughly $1.77 billion award the Andean country was ordered to pay for seizing the U.S.-based company’s assets in 2006
Democracy Now | 30-Oct-2015
The basic point is that TPP is a trade agreement that has all kinds of provisions intended to restrict regulations.
Market Wired | 27-Oct-2015
Edgewater and Corcoesto intend to exercise all available remedies to protect the rights and the interests of their shareholders, including international arbitration.
Público | 26-Oct-2015
La Xunta retiró a la multinacional Edgewater los derechos sobre la explotación gallega por falta de solvencia. La empresa amenaza con recurrir a un tribunal de arbitraje.
East Anglia Daily Times | 26-Oct-2015
Parts of a controversial new trade deal being negotiated between the European Union and the United States are illegal, it has been claimed.
Rabble | 22-Oct-2015
Billionaire T. Boone Pickens is suing Canada through the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) for $700 million in future lost profit.
IPS | 21-Oct-2015
Los tratados de comercio e inversión son uno de los instrumentos de internacionalización de las empresas europeas, que aseguran su acceso a los mercados mundiales y a los recursos en otras partes del mundo.
EurActiv | 19-Oct-2015
EU Parliament adopts robust mechanism needed for Paris climate talks. Are European national leaders ready to act?
Sierra Club | 18-Oct-2015
A private trade tribunal ruled that Canada violated rules in NAFTA because of an environmental impact assessment that led Canada to reject a company’s controversial mining project from moving forward in an important cultural and ecological area in Nova Scotia.

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