Environment

Fossil fuel firms sue countries over climate, environmental action

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Photo: Pixabay/EliseAldram

Published

September 20, 2021

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Published:

September 20, 2021

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Governments around the world are faced with legal action over various decisions and moves aimed at tackling climate change and protecting the environment, which fossil fuel companies claim could hurt their profits. One of the countries being sued for damages is Slovenia.

Lawsuits brought by five large fossil fuel companies – Rockhopper, Ascent Resources, RWE, TC Energy, and Uniper – are worth a total of more than EUR 15 billion. The overview of the lawsuits was provided by the UK-based social justice organization Global Justice Now, based on publicly available information.

Five of the largest lawsuits are worth more than EUR 15 billion

The governments are being sued under international laws governing trade and investment agreements, through the so-called investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS), according to reports.

“The Energy Charter Treaty allows foreign energy and mineral companies to sue countries, but bans governments from claiming damages from investors”

One of the international agreements on which ISDS is based is the 1994 Energy Charter Treaty, which deals exclusively with foreign investment in the energy sector. Under the Energy Charter Treaty, foreign energy and mineral companies can sue the signatory countries for damages if they restrict or interfere with the companies’ ability to continue extracting natural resources, while the nations are barred from pressing any claim for damages against the companies, according to CleanTechnica.com.

Slovenia is being sued for EUR 100 million by the UK’s Ascent Resources

Slovenia is being sued by Ascent Resources for requiring an environmental impact assessment on its fracking plans. The British oil and gas exploration company is reportedly seeking some EUR 100 million in damages.

Another UK-based oil and gas exploration company, Rockhopper, is suing Italy for about EUR 260 million over its ban on offshore oil drilling near the coast.

The Netherlands is being sued for more than EUR 2 billion over coal phaseout plans

The Netherlands is facing two lawsuits totaling more than EUR 2 billion, filed by German companies RWE and Uniper over the Dutch government’s decision to phase out coal and shut down coal-fired power plants by 2030.

The largest of the lawsuits, worth almost EUR 13 billion, was filed by Canada’s TC Energy against the United States for cancelling the company’s Keystone XL oil pipeline project over environmental and social justice concerns.

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