Move to renewables jeopardized by EU corporate trade deals

Proposed special rights for corporations in EU trade agreements threaten to prevent the necessary energy transition to tackle climate change according to a new report released today1. “Polluters Paradise – How investor rights in EU trade deals sabotage the fight for energy transition” shows how planned trade deals such as TTIP2 and CETA3 would help entrench a global corporate bill of rights that will impair efforts to tackle global warming.

Explaining the dangerous investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) provisions in trade and investment deals and the resulting power for companies to sue governments in special tribunals over policies that effect profits, the report shows how ISDS could deter future climate-friendly public policies.

It finds that 35% of all known investor-state claims relate to oil, mining, gas and electricity, with the number of lawsuits targeting state initiatives in the energy sector on the rise. From the phase out of nuclear power in Germany4, to the moratorium on fracking in the Canadian province of Quebec5, big corporations are using ISDS's rigged rules to challenge virtually any attempt by governments to implement progressive energy policies.

The report also details how law firms that make money when investors sue states are encouraging multinationals to file lawsuits over green energy measures such as renewables targets and taxes on fossil fuels. Investment lawyers have also alerted companies to arbitration as a forum to challenge the rejection of dirty energy projects such as the controversial Canada-US Keystone XL pipeline, which was recently rejected by President Obama over environmental concerns.

“At a time when attention should be focused on averting a global climate catastrophe, there is no space for agreements that would send emissions soaring and make solutions to climate change illegal,” says Amélie Canonne from French campaign group AITEC. “Treaties that work for dirty industry and undermine the fight for climate justice should be abolished, and plans for even more corporate rights in TTIP and CETA should be axed.”

“Despite recent talk of reform from EU Trade Commissioner Malmström, ISDS is as alive and dangerous as ever,” says Pia Eberhardt of lobbywatchdog Corporate Europe Observatory. “Offering this blank cheque for climate culprits to sue the hell out of countries acting to prevent catastrophic climate change is nothing short of scandalous. If we are to have a chance of preventing extremely dangerous levels of global warming, these corporate bills of rights must be stopped.”

The report can be read here:

Aussi disponible en français:

También disponible en español:


Pia Eberhardt, Corporate Europe Observatory (EN, DE),

Amélie Canonne, AITEC (EN, FR),

1Report co-published by Corporate Europe Observatory, AITEC, PowerShift, and Transnational Institute

2TTIP - 'Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership' between the EU and the US

3CETA - 'Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement' between the EU and Canada

4Vattenfall is seeking €4.7 billion from Germany for lost profits related to two of its nuclear power plants

5Lone Pine is seeking US$109.8 million plus interest in damages from Canada

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