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)

Ecofin | 24-Aug-2022
La compagnie minière Montero Mining réclame 90 millions de dollars canadiens comme dommages et intérêts en réparation du préjudice causé par l’expropriation du projet de terres rares Wigu Hill en 2018.
Junior Mining Network | 24-Aug-2022
Montero Mining and Exploration Ltd. is seeking compensation of CAD$ 90 million from Tanzania over the expropriation of the Wigu Hill Rare Earth Element Project.
Reuters | 24-Aug-2022
A US court upheld a tribunal’s $8.75 billion award to U.S. oil producer ConocoPhillips over the expropriation of its Venezuelan oil assets, granting a default judgment in the case.
BNE Intellinews | 22-Aug-2022
The half-brother of ousted UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson says he will bring a $50mn lawsuit against Mongolia to try to recover an investment into a mining project that went horribly wrong.
Slovenia Posts English | 22-Aug-2022
Ascent Resources initiated an arbitration dispute in which it is demanding half a billion euros due to Slovenia’s request that an environmental impact assessment should be carried out before fracking in Petišovci.
Le Figaro | 22-Aug-2022
Le gouvernement de l’Équateur a confirmé le versement d’indemnités au groupe pétrolier franco-britannique Perenco, qui a annoncé avoir obtenu le gel d’actifs équatoriens au Luxembourg pour non-respect d’une décision arbitrale.
Prensa Comunitaria | 8-Aug-2022
Doce congresistas estadounidenses pidieron al representante del departamento de Estado, Antony Blinken, no prestar servicios diplomáticos a la empresa minera Kappes, estar atentos ante anomalías en los procesos de consulta comunitaria y arbitraje internacional, proteger a integrantes de la resistencia antiminera de la Puya.
Sierra Nevada Ally | 28-Jul-2022
However, locals feel latent tension that the imminent consultation process or the arbitration suit could revive earlier threats, violence, and legal persecution from company employees and contractors.
Investigate Europe | 27-Jul-2022
European governments are still considering withdrawal from the Energy Charter Treaty, despite the EU Commission’s efforts to modernise the controversial pact, documents leaked to Investigate Europe reveal.
Energy Voice | 26-Jul-2022
Germany has agreed to buy a stake in Uniper. The deal is subject to Uniper withdrawing a lawsuit against the Netherlands in connection with the Energy Charter Treaty.

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