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)

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.
Norges Sosiale Forum NSF | 18-Sep-2015
The greatest challenges of our time is to end the unjust distribution in the world and to fight climate change.
Financial Express | 15-Sep-2015
Cairn Energy is set to approach the International Court of Justice (ICJ), asking it to appoint an arbitrator on behalf of the Indian government in its $1.6 bn...
Latin American Herald Tribune | 8-Sep-2015
A U.S. Federal Court has upheld U.S. enforcement of an International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) arbitration agreeing that U.S. oil giant ConocoPhillips has the right to take Venezuela state oil company PDVSA’s 50% stake.
Counter Punch | 3-Sep-2015
Over 90 percent of El Salvador’s surface water is contaminated with industrial chemicals, making it unsuitable to drink even if the water is boiled, chlorinated or filtered beforehand. A new action plan for passing a nationwide ban has begun to unfold, as Salvadorans await the outcome of the Pacific Rime ICSID case.
| 13-Aug-2015
We have been hearing news of the Pakistan government’s efforts to reach a settlement with the Tethyan Copper Company (TCC) in connection with the Reko Diq matter involving copper and gold reserves worth billions of dollars.
Rebelión | 11-Aug-2015
El pasado 24 de julio del 2015 , Costa Rica solicitó poner un término al procedimiento arbitral interpuesto por la empresa minera canadiense Infinito Gold ante el Centro Internacional de Arreglo de Disputas entre Inversionistas Extranjeros y Estados (más conocido como CIADI en español, ICSID en inglés).
El País | 7-Aug-2015
Spain has suffered its first setback in an international arbitration process over its cuts to renewable energy subsidies.

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