Fossil fuel firms sue governments across the world for £13bn as climate policies threaten profits

The majority of the cases are being brought under the Energy Charter Treaty, and are being hosted within the International Centre for The Settlement of Investment Disputes, a branch of the World Bank.

Fossil fuel firms sue governments across the world for £13bn as climate policies threaten profits

Image: Fossil fuel companies are suing governments across the world. File pic

Fossil fuel companies are suing governments across the world for more than $18bn (£13bn) after action against climate change has threatened their profits, according to research conducted by campaign group Global Justice Now and provided exclusively to Sky News.

Five energy companies, including British companies Rockhopper and Ascent, are using a legal process that allows commercial entities to sue governments under international laws governing trade agreements and treaties.

These corporate arbitration courts operate outside of a country’s domestic legal system.

According to Global Justice Now, which has collated publicly available information, five of the largest lawsuits under way are being brought by TC Energy, RWE, Uniper, Rockhopper and Ascent Resources.

Fossil fuel firms sue governments across the world for £13bn as climate policies threaten profits

Image: Canada based TC Energy, the company behind the controversial Keystone XL pipeline, is suing the US government for $15bn. Pic: TC Energy

The $18bn they are collectively suing for is almost a quarter of the entire climate funding provided by developed nations for developing ones, according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation & Development’s (OECD) most recent assessment.

Rockhopper is currently suing the Italian government for $325m (£234.8m) in a dispute related to a ban on offshore oil drilling close to the coastline.

Ascent is asking for $118m (£163.3m) from Slovenia after it passed legislation requiring environmental assessments for fracking.

Canada based TC Energy, the company behind the controversial Keystone XL pipeline, is suing the US government for $15bn (£10.9bn) after the Biden administration cancelled the project, citing the fight against climate change.

Meanwhile German companies RWE and Uniper are suing the Dutch government for $1.6bn (£1.16bn) and $1.06bn (£768m) each following the Dutch government’s move to phase out coal and shut down coal-fired power plants by 2030.

Fossil fuel firms sue governments across the world for £13bn as climate policies threaten profits

Image: Uniper are suing the Dutch government after its move to phase out coal and shut down coal-fired power plants by 2030

The majority of the cases are being brought under the Energy Charter Treaty, and are being hosted within the International Centre for The Settlement of Investment Disputes, a branch of the World Bank.

The Energy Charter Treaty was created after the end of the Cold War and was designed to provide a stable, transparent legal framework that protected foreign investors as energy markets opened up.

Global Justice Now trade campaigner Jean Blaylock told Sky News: “Fossil fuel companies should be paying to fix the climate crisis they caused, but instead they want a payout.

“They’re suing governments who take climate action through secretive corporate courts, massively increasing the cost of climate action”.

She added: “These courts are built into trade deals and operate outside of and supersede domestic courts and legal systems. That means a country that passes meaningful legislation to phase out fossil fuels could face a multi-billion dollar fine, despite acting entirely legally. It’s utterly undemocratic.

Fossil fuel firms sue governments across the world for £13bn as climate policies threaten profits

Countries 'not on track' to meet Paris climate pledges, says report

“These cases are only becoming more common as governments commit to climate action. World leaders may finally be waking up to the threat of the climate and ecological crisis, but fossil fuel companies are holding them to ransom, demanding ever-greater pay-outs through corporate courts.

“When world leaders gather in Glasgow, they’ll make lofty promises on climate action, but it will all be for nought if fossil fuel companies can sue governments into a state of climate paralysis. It could make a mockery of pledges at COP26.”

Global Justice Now campaigners say that the UK is a hub for the international arbitration system and that all, but two of the top 30 law firms, involved in the lucrative industry have offices in London.

Protestors are planning to gather outside these law and energy firms on Friday.


A spokesperson for Rockhopper told Sky News: “The Energy Charter Treaty is designed to provide a stable platform for energy sector investments. The Italian government issued licences and encouraged significant investment in oil and gas exploration, based on this platform.

“Clearly it is not equitable to change the rules halfway through. It is also important to note that those rule changes made by the Italian government were not related to climate change and that Italy continues to produce significant quantities of oil and gas within 12 miles of the coast.”

A spokesperson for German company RWE said: “RWE is not suing the Dutch government for deciding to phase out coal. We expressly support the energy transition in the Netherlands and associated measures to reduce carbon emissions.

“[But] the Dutch law does not provide for the resulting disruption to the property of affected companies. We do not consider this right.”

“RWE has therefore filed a request for arbitration against the Netherlands at the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes [ICSID] in Washington under the Energy Charter Treaty.”

Subscribe to ClimateCast on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, or Spreaker.

A spokesperson for Ascent Resources told Sky News: “Slovenia’s Ministry of Health, Ministry of Infrastructure, the Institute of the Republic of Slovenia for Nature Conservation, the Forestry Institute of the Republic of Slovenia, the Chemical Office of the Republic of Slovenia and the Conservation Institute of the Republic of Slovenia all concluded that an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) was not required.

“The ARSO [Slovenian Environment Agency] decision was therefore not based on the recommendations of Slovenia’s own experts and, furthermore, it contradicted the opinions they gave.

“It is therefore manifestly arbitrary and unreasonable.”

A spokesperson for Uniper said: “The Dutch government has announced its intention to shut down the last coal-fired power plants by 2030 without compensation.

Fossil fuel firms sue governments across the world for £13bn as climate policies threaten profits

Six everyday things you can do to help stop global warming

“Uniper is convinced that shutting down our power plant in Maasvlakte after only 15 years of operation would be unlawful without adequate compensation.

“International law provides a different standard of investment protection open to investors from other countries in international courts. The international tribunal is appointed by both parties, i.e. the Dutch state and Uniper.

“We are convinced that such an international tribunal will also form an objective opinion.”

TC Energy said that it was unable to comment further on a legal matter.

Internet Explorer Channel Network
News Related

OTHER NEWS

Power Global to invest $25 million to set up battery infrastructure facility in India over next 2-3 years

Representative image US-based clean energy and mobility products start-up Power Global plans to invest around USD 25 million (around Rs 185 crore) to set up a lithium-ion battery manufacturing unit ... Read more »

Is this China's ‘Great Resignation'? Freelancers find both hope and uncertainty in bid to escape 9-to-5 grind

With China’s working environment becoming increasingly stressful and competitive, Zheng Lizhu’s career ambitions as a designer shifted dramatically earlier this year. “The competition and anxiety in the design industry made ... Read more »

Over 4 crore unorganised workers registered on e-Shram portal

The Ministry of Labour and Employment on Sunday said the number registrations has crossed 4-crore mark on e-Shram portal in less than two months of its launch. According to a ... Read more »

Govt to decide tax cut on petrol after reviewing the state's economy: Karnataka CM Basavaraj Bommai

Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai (File image) Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai on Sunday said that the government will decide on reducing the petrol price by effecting a tax cut, after reviewing ... Read more »

Gold ETFs attract Rs 446 crore in September; inflow may continue in coming months on festive season demand

Gold exchange-traded funds (ETFs) attracted Rs 446 crore in September and inflow may continue in coming months due to strong demand on the back of festival season in the country. ... Read more »

FPIs turn net sellers in capital markets in October so far, pull out net Rs 1,472 crore

Kerala had set up India’s first lottery department in 1967. Foreign portfolio investors (FPI) have turned net sellers in the capital markets in October so far, reversing the trend of ... Read more »

Coronavirus Update | India logs 14,146 fresh COVID-19 cases, 144 new deaths

Since the beginning of the country’s vaccination drive, 69.26 crore people have received at least one dose of Covid-19 vaccine, and 27.88 crore are fully vaccinated. (Representative image) India recorded ... Read more »

With current reset in global supply chain, opportunities galore in India for investors and industry stakeholders: Nirmala Sitharaman

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitaraman. Opportunities are galore in India for all investors and industry stakeholders with the current reset in the global supply chain and clear headed and committed leadership ... Read more »

Indian economy is bouncing back strongly: MoS for External Affairs V Muraleedharan

Representational image. Muraleedharan said the Narendra Modi government has undertaken “far-reaching” structural reforms, making use of the mantra of ‘Reform, Perform and Transform’. “These reforms range from digital transactions to ... Read more »

Procurement of expensive aircraft parts to be done after approval of senior official: Air India

Air India | Representative image New aircraft parts worth more than Rs 10 lakhs and non-aircraft parts worth more than Rs 5 lakh will now be procured only after the ... Read more »

Moneycontrol Area Watch | Jewar Airport brings tailwinds to projects along Yamuna Expressway

Buddh International Circuit (above) brought the Yamuna Expressway in the limelight, and now the proposed Jewar Airport is giving the area a leg-up. Buddh International Circuit – India’s first and ... Read more »

Effects of China's regulatory onslaught felt in Hong Kong as large IPOs fall by the wayside

Hong Kong’s primary-listing market is going through a dry patch in what is normally the busiest time of the year. Several potential billion-dollar initial public offerings ranging from supermarket owner ... Read more »

Expect 8-12% market returns in next one year: Ajay Kejriwal of Choice Broking

Ajay Kejriwal, President at Choice Broking feels that Infosys (the growth leader in the sector) and TCS (a sector leader) will continue to attract investors’ interest, mainly on the back ... Read more »

Incessant rains lash Kerala; 'Red Alert' in 5 districts

Monsoon Heavy rains lashed Kerala, especially the south and central regions on Saturday, causing water-logging in several areas and leaving many rivers in spate, as the weathermen sounded ‘red alert’ ... Read more »

Cryptocurrency Prices Today on October 17: Polkadot plunges over 3%

Cryptocurrency (Representative image) Cryptocurrency prices continue to be in mostly in red on October 17. The global cryptocurrency market cap is Rs 185.34 lakh crores, a 0.36 percent decrease over ... Read more »

World Bank president David Malpass congratulates India on successful COVID-19 vaccination campaign

World Bank President David Malpass (Image: Reuters) World Bank president David Malpass on Saturday congratulated India on a successful vaccination campaign against the Covid-19 pandemic as he met finance minister ... Read more »

Why independent floors are staging a comeback this festive season

Builder floors are also gaining popularity because they combine the benefits of traditional apartments and villas. With one flat typically constructed on a single floor, occupying families have more space ... Read more »

Gati Shakti, digitisation, 'Make in India' discussed as Nirmala Sitharaman meets top CEOs in New York

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitaraman. The discussions that took place between Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and the world’s leading business officers at the Big Apple in New York heavily emphasized on India’s ... Read more »

Congress slams 'catastrophic mishandling' of economy; says every aspect of democracy 'diminished'

19 Opposition parties including Congress will jointly launch a protest against the Centre (File image: PTI) The Congress hit out at the Centre over what it said was ”catastrophic mishandling” of the economy and also alleged ... Read more »

SIA sees moderate uptick in September passenger traffic on VTL tailwind

The group’s total passenger traffic rose by 4.4 per cent in September. SINGAPORE (THE BUSINESS TIMES) – The vaccinated travel lane (VTL) arrangement has helped lift demand for Singapore Airlines ... Read more »

"Democracy survived" Capitol riot because of police: Joe Biden

Joe Biden addressing UN General Assembly (Image: Twitter/@ANI) Framed by the Capitol, President Joe Biden paid tribute Saturday to fallen law enforcement officers and honored those who fought off the Jan. 6 ... Read more »

Investors in two-thirds of companies listed globally risk losing US$8.4 trillion because of declining ocean health: WWF

Investors in two-thirds of companies listed around the world were at the risk of losing US$8.4 trillion – or around a tenth of global gross domestic product (GDP) – due ... Read more »

Chinese realtor's $300-billion debt: Evergrande CEO in restructuring, asset sale talks

Evergrande Group’s chief executive is holding talks in Hong Kong with investment banks and creditors over a possible restructuring and asset sales, two people said, as the Chinese developer battles ... Read more »

It isn't just the UK that's suffering supply chain issues. In the US, the crisis may last until the summer

A trucker at the Port of Long Beach in California has said "sometimes drivers get mad" because they are waiting double the time they usually would for one load. Read more »

NCB raids 2 places in Palghar, seizes 505 gm mephedrone; 1 held

Representative image Over 500 grams of mephedrone were seized in two separate Narcotics Control Bureau operations in neighbouring Palghar district, leading to the arrest of one man, an official said ... Read more »

Amazon seeks to invest in SK Telecom's non-telecom operations

Amazon, the world’s largest online retailer, collaborated with SK Telecom’s e-commerce platform 11Street to launch its Korean language shopping service dubbed the Amazon Global Store at the end of August. ... Read more »

Meeting with Putin to be crucial for gas contract, says Serbian President

Aleksandar Vucic said earlier that he planned to discuss the gas price for Serbia with Putin at a meeting on November 25 Read more »

Russia warns EU: natural gas shortage could become more frequent

Novak also echoed Russian President Vladimir Putin’s message that Russia is ready to supply Europe with more gas. But requests to supply more gas have not yet come in from ... Read more »

Nike CEO makes shocking confession: ‘I used to shoot a teenager'

A prominent executive of a sports brand has revealed in a controversial interview that he shot and killed a teenage boy in the 1960s. It concerns 72-year-old Larry Miller, CEO ... Read more »

Rosatom plans launch of four hydrogen production projects in 2024-2025

The Kaliningrad and Murmansk projects are planned to focus on European markets, whereas two projects to be implemented in Sakhalin will be mainly focused on Asian-Pacific countries Read more »

Cricket-BCCI chief Sourav Ganguly hopeful IPL 2022 will be held in India

BCCI President Sourav Ganguly (Image: Reuters) Indian cricket board president Sourav Ganguly expects next year’s Indian Premier League (IPL) to be played in the country after the COVID-19 pandemic forced ... Read more »

Russia to set new domestic gas consumption record in 2021, says Novak

Deputy Chief Executive Officer of Gazprom Vitaly Markelov said earlier that the current gas consumption in Russia exceeds the levels of 2019 and 2020 Read more »

Home registrations in Kolkata jump over 2 times in July-September on stamp duty cut

Real Estate Registration of residential properties in Kolkata metropolitan area jumped more than twofold to 15,160 units during July-September period mainly driven by stamp duty reduction by the state government, ... Read more »

Elon Musk Shades Other High Earners: Wealth Above $230 Billion

Musk, who has long held the title of ‘richest person’, has built up a fortune of $236 billion, according to Bloomberg news agency. Especially the hard ride up of the ... Read more »

Gem, jewellery exports rise 29% to Rs 23,259 crore in September

Representative image Gems and jewellery exports rose by 29.67 per cent to Rs 23,259.55 crore in September 2021 compared to Rs 17,936.86 crore in the year-ago month, according to the ... Read more »

MEA S Jaishankar on Israel visit from October 17-21, will hold talks to strengthen strategic ties

(File image: External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar) External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar will pay an official visit to Israel beginning Sunday during which he will hold talks with his Israeli ... Read more »

Fed Worried About Inflation Risk as It Firmed Up Tapering Plan Central bank prepares to begin reducing asset purchases next month and eyes end to stimulus program by mid-2022

The Labor Department said consumer prices rose a seasonally adjusted 0.4% in September from August. (Photo: AFP) Federal Reserve officials last month worried that disrupted supply chains were raising the risks ... Read more »

Italy unveils G20 Innovation League to promote startups for sustainable future

The current Italian Presidency of the G20 has unveiled G20 Innovation League, a new and unique initiative designed to drive forward innovative projects that help create a sustainable future. The ... Read more »

Centralcon's Sha Tin housing project launch gets off to a slow start as buyers hold out for better options amid robust supply

A weekend property sale got off to a slow start in Hong Kong, as homebuyers balked at flats offered by lesser known developers in a market where thousands of new ... Read more »

Avenue Supermarts Ltd. Q2 Result | Profit rises 110% YOY to Rs 418 crore, revenue grows 46.6% YOY to Rs 7,789 crore

Avenue Supermarts Ltd, which operates DMart chain of retail stores, has reported consolidated profit after tax of Rs 418 crore for the quarter ended September 2021, an increase of 110% ... Read more »