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)

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Alberta Politics | 10-Feb-2022
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Reuters | 10-Feb-2022
The Canadian province of Alberta formally initiated a trade challenge to recover its investment in the Keystone XL oil pipeline, which was scrapped in 2021 after the United States cancelled a key permit.
The Sydney Morning Herald | 8-Feb-2022
The mine was shut amid accusations of villagers being poisoned by leaking toxic waste. Kingsgate, whose Thai subsidiary Akara Resources had operated the mine since 2001, filed an international arbitration lawsuit.
Milenio | 4-Feb-2022
Legacy Vulcan, filial de Calizas Industriales del Carmen, solicitó un arbitraje contra México bajo el esquema del Tratado de Libre Comercio de América del Norte.
Reuters | 4-Feb-2022
The Mexican government said on Thursday that it is negotiating the settlement of a $1.1 billion lawsuit by Vulcan Materials Co over a government effort to shutter its limestone mine.
CIAR Global | 31-Jan-2022
Perenco pide ante el tribunal que se ejecute el laudo y no se utilicen las reclamaciones fiscales para reducir la indemnización que se acerca a los 400 millones de dólares.
Climate Home News | 26-Jan-2022
Campaigners say the UK and Switzerland are defending fossil fuel interests in Energy Charter Treaty modernisation talks to tempt firms to relocate their HQs.
Mint | 26-Jan-2022
As part of the settlement reached with the Indian government over the levy of back taxes, the company has withdrawn all cases that were brought to collect the tax refund ordered by an international arbitration tribunal.
IISD | 24-Jan-2022
The fossil fuel industry is the most litigious industry in the ISDS system by number of cases, accounting for almost 20% of the total known ISDS cases across all sectors.

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