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)

East Asia Forum | 9-Aug-2021
Human rights experts are particularly concerned about the asymmetric nature of the system and a lack of investors’ human rights obligations. Together with high ISDS costs and arbitral awards, they undermine states’ ability to realise economic, social, cultural and environmental rights.
Public Citizen | 7-Aug-2021
TC Energy expects to get 15 times more money, coming from taxpayers’ pockets, than the asset losses it experienced from the revocation of a permit, that was already denied twice.
The Globe and Mail | 6-Aug-2021
New evidence from a UN report and a high-profile investor arbitration case is casting a spotlight on Rwanda’s role in sophisticated smuggling networks that extract gold and coltan from Congolese conflict zones and funnel the strategically important minerals illicitly into global supply chains.
Gabriel Resources | 5-Aug-2021
The UNESCO application and inscription are fundamentally at odds with Romania’s obligations under its investment treaties in relation to Gabriel’s gold and silver project.
Al Jazeera | 3-Aug-2021
Corporate courts were invented to protect the West’s control of the world against decolonisation. They are now undermining attempts to halt climate change.
CIAR Global | 30-Jul-2021
La compañía petrolera Perenco ha llegado a un acuerdo con Ecuador en las negociaciones por el pago del laudo de 435 millones de dólares en el marco de la larga disputa sobre la asignación de los beneficios de dos contratos de participación, que datan de 2002, a raíz de la adopción de legislación, por parte de Ecuador, que modificó la participación que Perenco recibía en virtud de varios Contratos de Hidrocarburos en la Región Amazónica Ecuatoriana.
Capital Monitor | 30-Jul-2021
The Energy Charter Treaty, which gives oil and gas companies a route to suing governments, is increasingly hindering climate policy reform, say campaigners. And it is not the only agreement of its type.
TASS | 30-Jul-2021
The Russian Prosecutor General’s Office stressed that Russia’s well-founded position had made it possible to reject most of requirements made by Yukos Capital.
Bloomberg | 30-Jul-2021
The Permanent Court of Arbitration ruled that Russia illegally expropriated loans provided by Yukos Capital Sarl to its former parent company.
Swiss Info | 28-Jul-2021
La Unesco declaró hoy la antigua mina romana de Rosia Montana, en Rumanía, Patrimonio Mundial de la Humanidad, una decisión que cierra la puerta a la explotación de las toneladas de minerales preciosos que hacen del subsuelo de la zona la mayor reserva de oro de Europa.

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