Support 100 years of independent journalism.

  1. Chart of the Day
17 September 2021

Five fossil fuel companies are suing governments for more than $18bn

Firms are taking legal action after their profits were affected by climate policies.

By Nicu Calcea

Five fossil fuel firms are suing governments in Europe and the US for more than $18.1bn after their profits were affected by climate change policies, research by Global Justice Now shows. The biggest of these lawsuits has been filed by the Canadian giant TC Energy, which operates much of the energy infrastructure in North America. The company is asking for $15bn as retribution for Joe Biden’s decision to revoke the Keystone XL pipeline permit.

 

German companies RWE and Uniper are both suing the Dutch government in response to the country’s plan to phase out coal, while British firm Rockhopper is suing Italy for a ban on offshore oil drilling near the coast, and Ascent is suing Slovenia for introducing new requirements for fracking.

The majority of these cases are being arbitrated under the Energy Charter Treaty (ECT), an archaic agreement created to integrate the Soviet energy sector that now covers some €344.6bn worth of fossil infrastructure in the EU, the UK and Switzerland alone. 

Global Justice Now campaigner Jean Blaylock told Sky News: “[Fossil fuel firms] are suing governments who take climate action through secretive corporate courts, massively increasing the cost of climate action. These courts are built into trade deals and operate outside of and supersede domestic courts and legal systems.” 

Amid concern that the ECT will further slow climate action, European politicians and campaigners are increasingly asking for the treaty to be modernised or scrapped

Select and enter your email address Quick and essential guide to domestic and global politics from the New Statesman's politics team. A weekly newsletter helping you fit together the pieces of the global economic slowdown. The New Statesman’s global affairs newsletter, every Monday and Friday. The best of the New Statesman, delivered to your inbox every weekday morning. The New Statesman’s weekly environment email on the politics, business and culture of the climate and nature crises - in your inbox every Thursday. Our weekly culture newsletter – from books and art to pop culture and memes – sent every Friday. A weekly round-up of some of the best articles featured in the most recent issue of the New Statesman, sent each Saturday. A newsletter showcasing the finest writing from the ideas section and the NS archive, covering political ideas, philosophy, criticism and intellectual history - sent every Wednesday. Sign up to receive information regarding NS events, subscription offers & product updates.
  • Administration / Office
  • Arts and Culture
  • Board Member
  • Business / Corporate Services
  • Client / Customer Services
  • Communications
  • Construction, Works, Engineering
  • Education, Curriculum and Teaching
  • Environment, Conservation and NRM
  • Facility / Grounds Management and Maintenance
  • Finance Management
  • Health - Medical and Nursing Management
  • HR, Training and Organisational Development
  • Information and Communications Technology
  • Information Services, Statistics, Records, Archives
  • Infrastructure Management - Transport, Utilities
  • Legal Officers and Practitioners
  • Librarians and Library Management
  • Management
  • Marketing
  • OH&S, Risk Management
  • Operations Management
  • Planning, Policy, Strategy
  • Printing, Design, Publishing, Web
  • Projects, Programs and Advisors
  • Property, Assets and Fleet Management
  • Public Relations and Media
  • Purchasing and Procurement
  • Quality Management
  • Science and Technical Research and Development
  • Security and Law Enforcement
  • Service Delivery
  • Sport and Recreation
  • Travel, Accommodation, Tourism
  • Wellbeing, Community / Social Services
I consent to New Statesman Media Group collecting my details provided via this form in accordance with the Privacy Policy
THANK YOU

Content from our partners
How industry is key for net zero
How to ensure net zero brings good growth and green jobs
Flooding is a major risk for our homes