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).

(March 2020)

EU Observer | 14-Jul-2020
Green groups have renewed their demand for the EU and member states to jointly withdraw from the controversial Energy Charter Treaty (ECT).
Council of Canadians | 13-Jul-2020
Already, Mexico’s progressive reforms have made it an ISDS target. First Majestic, a Canadian silver mining company has been threatening Mexico for the last few years, under NAFTA’s Chapter 11.
Reuters | 10-Jul-2020
Canadian miner Barrick Gold Corp said it served a dispute notice to the Papua New Guinea government over the country’s refusal to extend a mining lease in the Porgera valley.
The New Republic | 9-Jul-2020
The Energy Charter Treaty, with 53 signatories, allows energy companies to sue states that make their business unprofitable.
The Ecologist | 9-Jul-2020
Corporations are busy weaponising obscure legal instruments to sue government for their actions to save lives and jobs during the coronavirus crisis.
Libération | 8-Jul-2020
Le traité sur la charte de l’énergie, en cours de renégociation, est trop archaïque pour être compatible avec les objectifs de lutte contre le dérèglement climatique.
Euractiv | 6-Jul-2020
The Energy Charter Treaty, which dates back to the 1990s, severely restricts Europe’s ability to change regulations in the energy sector, with many EU member states facing court actions worth billions of euros, write a group of MEPs.
bilaterals.org | 3-Jul-2020
Entrevista con Yamina Saheb que fue la Jefa de la Unidad de Eficiencia Energética en el Secretariado del Tratado de la Carta de Energía entre 2018 y 2019.
bilaterals.org | 3-Jul-2020
Interview with Yamina Saheb, former head of unit in the Energy Charter Treaty Secretariat .
bilaterals.org | 3-Jul-2020
Interview de Yamina Saheb, ancienne responsable de l’unité efficacité énergétique au secrétariat du Traité de la Charte de l’énergie entre 2018 et 2019.

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