logo logo

Statement on ISDS and climate

All the versions of this article: [English] [Español] [français]

Photo: Global Justice Now

14 November 2022

Statement on ISDS and climate

Civil society organisations are calling on governments to remove the threat that ISDS (investor state dispute settlement) poses to the climate. The following statement outlines our primary concerns and demands. We seek to put pressure on our governments as they meet at COP 27 in November 2022.

Please read it and consider signing on using the form at the bottom

Investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) threatens climate action. As the UN climate conference COP 27 starts, we call on governments around the world to put an end to this unjust and dangerous system.

Many trade and investment agreements include ISDS mechanisms. ISDS empowers transnational corporations to sue governments in secretive tribunals outside of the national legal system over law and policy changes that they fear could reduce their profits.

For many years, oil, gas, mining, extractives and energy corporations have brought hundreds of ISDS cases against countries - energy and mining cases make up 42% of known ISDS cases[1]. Now there are an increasing number of cases that directly challenge climate policy. Fossil fuel corporations are already suing over coal phase out, the cancellation of a tar sands oil pipeline, a ban on offshore oil drilling and fracking regulation. Industry insiders themselves expect these cases may be only a foretaste, given the scale of fossil fuel ‘stranded assets’[2].

This year’s IPCC report was clear that ISDS risks blocking the phase out of fossil fuels[3]. It specifically highlights the Energy Charter Treaty (ECT), which many of the fossil fuel corporations are using and which developing countries are currently being pushed to join.

The key risks from ISDS for tackling the climate crisis are:

Increasing the cost of climate action
Corporations can claim vast amounts of taxpayer money through ISDS, often far higher than in domestic courts. Claims in recent climate cases have been in the billions, and they often include a large amount for hypothetical future profits. This surpasses the ability of many countries to pay, making the climate transition unaffordable.

Regulatory chill
The fear of being sued may cause countries to delay or decide against taking action that is needed on climate. Countries have already admitted that this is happening.[4] The threat of ISDS can be used to bully governments into backing down. After decades of inaction, the world simply cannot afford fossil fuel companies using ISDS to sue the world into climate paralysis.

Communities at the frontlines of the climate crisis are often at the heart of ISDS claims through struggles against destructive mining and other extractive projects.

We must urgently get rid of the ISDS system. The evidence of years of damage to the environment, land, health and self-determination of peoples all around the world is stark, and the renewed urgency of the climate imperative is beyond doubt. Reform proposals are weak, ineffective and totally inadequate for what is needed. Governments must take immediate action to put an end to the risks of ISDS.

We know this can be done, because some countries have started doing so. Countries such as South Africa, India, New Zealand, Bolivia, Tanzania, Canada and the US have all taken steps toward getting rid of ISDS.

Practical options for action include:


  • negotiating, signing or ratifying any new agreements that include ISDS, such as EU deals with Mexico and Chile
  • joining existing agreements that include ISDS, such as the ECT (Energy Charter Treaty), CETA (Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement) or CPTPP (Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership)
  • extending existing agreements to include ISDS, such as RCEP (Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership) or AfCFTA (African Continental Free Trade Area)
  • Terminate or exit existing agreements with ISDS, such as the ECT
  • Withdraw from, and withhold consent to, the use of ISDS
  • Explore alternatives to ISDS including investment risk insurance, international collaboration to strengthen domestic legal systems, and human rights mechanisms

As countries gather for COP 27, we call on governments to commit to remove the threat that ISDS poses to climate goals by getting rid of this unjust and dangerous system.

Sign the statement

[1] IISD, Investor-state disputes in the fossil fuel industry, 2021.

[2] AFP, “Governments risk ’trillions’ in fossil fuel climate litigation” France 24, 2021.

[3] IPCC, Climate change 2022: mitigation of climate change, 2022, p14-72 & p14-81

[4] Elizabeth Meager, “Cop26 targets pushed back under threat of being sued” Capital Monitor, 2022

Signatories :

2. Association for Women’s Rights in Development (AWID)
4. CADTM International Network
5. Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL)
6. ClientEarth
7. DAWN (Development Alternatives with Women for a New Era)
8. Emmaüs International
9. Friends of the Earth International
11. Greenpeace
12. Oxfam International
13. Project HEARD
14. Society for International Development
15. Transnational Institute
16. Acción por la Biodiversidad
17. Akina Mama wa Afrika
18. Climate Action Network (CAN) Europe
19. Corporate Europe Observatory
20. European Coordination Via Campesina
21. European Environmental Bureau
22. foodwatch International
23. Natural Justice
24. Pacific Network on Globalisation
25. Plataforma América Latina mejor sin TLC
26. Project on Organizing, Development, Education, and Research (PODER)
27. Public Service International- PSI Americas
28. Reality of Aid-Asia Pacific
29. Sisters of Mercy of the Americas Justice Team
30. Southern and Eastern Trade Information and Negotiations Instituete- SEATINI Uganda.
31. Women In Development Europe+ (WIDE+)
32. Asamblea Argentina mejor sin TLC, Argentina
33. Asamblea Jáchal No Se Toca, Argentina
34. Attac Argentina, Argentina
35. Diálogo 2000-Jubileo Sur Argentina, Argentina
36. Fundación Grupo Efecto Positivo, Argentina
37. Tierra Nativa / Amigos de la Tierra Argentina, Argentina
38. ActionAid Australia, Australia
39. Aid/Watch Australia, Australia
40. Australian Fair Trade and Investment Network, Australia
41. Community and Public Sector Union, Australia
42. Friends of the Earth Australia, Australia
43. GeneEthics, Australia
44. Music Trust, Australia
45. Sutherland Shire Environment Centre, NSW, Australia
46. Union Aid Abroad - APHEDA, Australia
47. Uniting Church in Australia, Synod of Victoria and Tasmania, Australia
48. Anders Handeln, Austria
49. Attac Austria, Austria
50. Dreikönigsaktion der Katholischen Jungschar, Austria
51. Informationsgruppe Lateinamerika, Austria
52. Österreichischer Gewerkschaftsbund, Austria
53. Proge, Austria
54. transform !at, Austria
55. Welthaus der Kath. Aktion Wien, Austria
56. WIDE - Network for Women´s Rights and Feminist Perspectives in Development, Austria
57. ZAMMM Aktivismus für eine zukunftsfähige Gesellschaft, Austria
58. AK EUROPA, Austria
59. ELA Euskal Sindikatua, Basque Country / Euskal Herria
60. CADTM Belgium, Belgium
61. Centre national de coopération au développement (CNCD-11.11.11), Belgium
62. Centre tricontinental - CETRI, Belgium
63. Entraide et Fraternité, Belgium
64. Fédération des Services Sociaux, Belgium
65., Belgium
66. Links Ecologisch Forum - Forum Gauche Ecologie, Belgium
67. vzw Climaxi, Belgium
68. Fundación Solón - Bolivia, Bolivia
71. Blue Planet Project, Canada
72. Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, Canada
73. Canadian Environmental Law Association, Canada
74. Canadian Fair Trade Network (CFTN), Canada
75. Common Frontiers, Canada
76. Council of Canadians, Canada
77. David Suzuki Foundation, Canada
78. MiningWatch Canada, Canada
79. National Farmers Union, Canada
80. Projet Accompagnement Québec Guatemala (PAQG), Canada
81. Public Service Alliance of Canada, Canada
82. RQMI : Réseau québécois pour une mondialisation inclusive, Canada
83. Trade Justice Network, Canada
84. Attac-Québec, Canada - Québec
85. Ongd AFRICANDO, Canary Islands
86. Asociación por la Paz y los Derechos Humanos Taula per Mèxic, Catalunya
87. Rodes Constituent , Catalunya
88. Chile Mejor sin TLC (Tratados de Libre Comercio), Chile
89. Chile Sin Ecocidio, Chile
90. Comité Ambiental Comunal de la comuna de Paine, Chile
91. Comunidad Ecuménica Martin Luther King, Chile
92. Mujeres en Marcha, Chile
93. Observatorio Latinoamericano de Conflictos Ambientales OLCA, Chile
94. Red de Acción por los Derechos Ambientales RADA, Chile
95. Colectivo de abogados José Alvear Restrepo, Colombia
96. Comité Para la Defensa del Agua y El Páramo de Santurbán, Colombia
97. SINEDIAN, Colombia
98. Appui aux Initiatives Communautaires de Conservation de l’Environnement et de Développement Durable, AICED, Congo, République Démocratique
99. Ekumenická akademie (Ecumenical Academy), Czech Republic
100. Global Aktion, Denmark
101. NOAH - Friends of the Earth Denmark, Denmark
102. Centro de Documentación en Derechos Humanos « Segundo Montes Mozo S.J. » (CSMM), Ecuador
103. UDAPT, Ecuador
104. Acción Ecológica , Ecuador
105. Asociación de Desarrollo Económico Social ADES, El Salvador
106. Feministas por el Clima, España
107. Maan ystävät / Friends of the Earth Finland, Finland
108. ActionAid France, France
109. Alofa Tuvalu, France
110. Asociación Los Pies en la Tierra, France
111. Attac France, France
112. BLOOM Association, France
113. CADTM France (Comité pour l’abolition des dettes illégitimes), France
114. CCFD - Terre Solidaire, France
115. Collectif Relais d’Informations & Actions Citoyennes association loi 1901, France
116. Collectif Stop CETA/Mercosur, France
117. Fédération Artisans du Monde, France
118. Fédération syndicale SUD-Energie, France
119. Fondation Copernic, France
120. foodwatch France, France
121. France Amérique Latine, France
122. France Nature Environnement, France
123. FSU, France
124. GAFE-FRANCE, France
125. Gauche Démocratique et Sociale (GDS), France
126. Générations Futures, France
127. GERES, France
128. Igapo Project, France
129. Les Amis de la Terre France, France
130. Les Amis du Monde diplomatique, France
131. Mesure Conservatoire, France
132. Sherpa, France
133. Veblen Institute, France
134. ZEA, France
135. Arbeitsgemeinschaft bäuerliche Landwirtschaft e.V., Germany
136. Attac Germany, Germany
137. Berliner Wassertisch, Germany
138. Bund für Umwelt und Naturschutz e.V., Germany
139. BUND Nordschwarzwald, Germany
140. earthlink e.V., Germany
141. Ecosia, Germany
142. FDCL-Center for Research and Documentation Chile-Latin America, Germany
143. Leave it in the Ground (LINGO), Germany
144. NABU, Germany
145. NaturFreunde Deutschlands e.V., Germany
146. Netzwerk gerechter Welthandel, Germany
147. PowerShift e.V., Germany
148. Rettet den Regenwald, Germany
149. Umweltinstitut München e.V., Germany
150. Wuppertaler Aktionsbündnis Gerechter Welthandel, Germany
151. Zukunftskonvent Germany, Germany
152. AbibiNsroma Foundation, Ghana
153. Friends of the Earth Ghana, Ghana
154. Consumer Association the Quality of Life-EKPIZO, Greece
156. Consejo del Pueblo Maya CPO , Guatemala
157. Groupe d’Action Francophone pour l’Environnement GAFE Haïti, Haïti
158. Mouvement national citoyen pour le climat Alternatiba Haïti, Haïti
159. Fenntarthatóság Felé Egyesület (Towards Sustainability Association), Hungary
160. National Society of Conservationists - Friends of the Earth Hungary, Hungary
161. Védegylet Egyesület, Hungary
162. Anti-Jindal & Anti-POSCO Movement, Odisha, India
163. Association For Promotion Sustainable Development, India
164. Centre for Improved Rural Health and Environmental Protection (CIRHEP), India
165. Srushtidnyan, India
166. The Future We Need, India
167. Indonesia for Global Justice (IGJ), Indonesia
168. Solidaritas Perempuan, Indonesia
169. Comhlámh, Ireland
170. Trócaire, Ireland
171. Korea Federation of Environmental Movement(KFEM)-FoE Korea, Korea
172. Ladakh Ecological Development Group, Ladakh
173. ASTM - Action Solidarité Tiers Monde, Luxembourg
174. Mouvement Ecologique, Luxembourg
175. Consumers’ Association of Penang, Malaysia
176. Independent Advocacy and Activism of Affordable Medicines for Vulnerable Communities in Malaysia, Malaysia
177. Sahabat Alam Malaysia (Friends of the Earth Malaysia), Malaysia
178. Academia Nacional de Educación Ambiental (ANEA), Mexico
180. Bios Iguana A. C., Mexico
182. El Colegio de Veracruz, Mexico
184. Fronteras Comunes, Mexico
185. Luvina, Mexico
186. Otros Mundos Chiapas, Mexico
187. Red de Información y Acción Ambiental de Vercruz, Mexico
188. Red Mexicana de Afectadas/os por la Minería (REMA), Mexico
189. Otros Mundos Chiapas, México
190. Procesos Integrales para la Autogestión de los Pueblos, México
191. Rizoma Entretejiendo la Defensa de los Bienes Comunes A.C., México
192. Justiça Ambiental JA ! - Friends of the Earth Mozambique, Mozambique
193. National Indigenous Women Forum, Nepal
194. Both ENDS, Netherlands
195. FNV Dutch Trade Union Organisation, Netherlands
196. Handel Anders ! coalition, Netherlands
197. SOMO, Netherlands
198. GE Free New Zealand in Food and Environment, New Zealand
199. Its Our Future Aotearoa New Zealand, New Zealand
200. Attac-Norway, Norway
201. All Pakistan Labour Federation, Pakistan
202. Colectivo Voces Ecológicas COVEC, Panamá
203. Heñói Centro de Estudios, Paraguay
204. WomanHealth Philippines, Philippines
205. Youth for Climate Hope, Philippines
206. ACRÉSCIMO - Associação de Promoção ao Investimento Florestal, Portugal
207. Climáximo, Portugal
208. Com Calma - Associação Cultural, Portugal
209. Extinction Rebellion Guimarães, Portugal
210. IRIS - Associação Nacional de Ambiente, Portugal
211. OIKOS - Cooperação e Desenvolvimento, Portugal
212. TROCA - Plataforma por um Comércio Internacional Justo, Portugal
213. Réseau des associations pour la protection de l’environnement et la nature, Sénégal
214. Solidarite Ci Sutura, Sénégal
215. Focus, drustvo za sonaraven razvoj (Focus Association for Sustainable Development), Slovenia
216. Umanotera, The Slovenian Foundation for Sustainable Development, Slovenia
217. Amics de la Terra Mallorca, Spain
218. Amigos de la Tierra, Spain
219. Asociación Cultural Brasileña Maloka, Spain
220. Asociación de Permacultura ATTA, Spain
221. Asociación por la Recuperación del Bosque Autóctono (ARBA), Spain
222. Associació Cultural i Medi Ambiental Arrels, Spain
223. Attac ESPAÑA , Spain
224. Avilaantiespecista, Spain
225. Campaña No a los Tratados de Comercio e Inversión, Spain
226. Confederación General del Trabajo CGT, Spain
227. Confederación General del Trabajo CGT, Spain
228. Des de Baix, Spain
229. Ecologistas en Acción, Spain
231. Entrepueblos/Entrepobles/Entrepobos/Herriarte, Spain
232. Extinction Rebellion , Spain
233. Francisco Muñoz de Bustillo, Spain
234. Fridays For Future Sevilla , Spain
235. FSC-CCOO, Spain
236. Fundacions Darder Mascaró, Spain
237. Grup Balear d’Ornitologia i Defensa de la Naturalesa, Spain
239. Novact, Spain
240. Observatori DESC, Spain
241. Observatori DESC de Drets Humans, Spain
242. PARVA - ARBA Paracuellos, Spain
243. Plataforma Antitérmica La Pereda , Spain
244. Recortes Cero, Spain
245. Salva la Selva, Spain
246. Som Mobilitat SCCL, Spain
247. STACYL Valladolid, Spain
249. UNIÓN UNIVERSAL Desarrollo Solidario, Spain
250. FSC-COO, Spain
251. Afrikagrupperna, Sweden
252. Framtidsjorden Sweden, Sweden
253. LM international, Sweden
254. Pro Natura / Friends of the Earth Switzerland, Switzerland
255. Public Eye, Switzerland
256. Mazingira Network - Tanzania (MANET), Tanzania
257. Sustainable Holistic Development Foundation (SUHODE), Tanzania
258. ALTSEAN-Burma, Thailand
260. Balanced Economy Project, United Kingdom
261. Bretton Woods Project, United Kingdom
262. Business & Human Rights Resource Centre, United Kingdom
263. Catholic Agency for Overseas Development, United Kingdom
264. Compassion in World Farming, United Kingdom
265. Corporate Justice Coalition, United Kingdom
266. Debt Justice UK, United Kingdom
267. Ecumenical Council for Corporate Responsibility (ECCR), United Kingdom
268. Environmental Justice Foundation, United Kingdom
269. Equality Trust, United Kingdom
270. Farms not Factories, United Kingdom
271. Fresh Eyes, United Kingdom
272. Friends of the Earth England, Wales and Northern Ireland, United Kingdom
273. Global Justice Now, United Kingdom
274. Health Poverty Action, United Kingdom
275. Law for Palestine, United Kingdom
276. London Mining Network, United Kingdom
277. New Economics Foundation, United Kingdom
278. One World Week, United Kingdom
279. Public and Commercial Services Union, United Kingdom
280. The Corner House, United Kingdom
281. Trade Justice Movement, United Kingdom
282. Transform Trade (formerly Traidcraft Exchange), United Kingdom
283. War on Want, United Kingdom
284. Women’s Budget Group, United Kingdom
285. Institute for Policy Studies, Global Economy Project , United States
286. American Friends Service Committee, United States of America
287. Climate in your hands, United States of America
288. Corporate Accountability, United States of America
289. Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, United States of America
290. NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice, United States of America
291. Occupy Bergen County, United States of America
292. People’s Green New Deal - Madison Wisconsin, United States of America
293. Public Citizen, United States of America
294. Rethink Trade, United States of America
295. Trade Justice Education Fund , United States of America
296. United Church of Christ, Justice and Local Church Ministries, United States of America
297. US El Salvador Sister Cities , United States of America
298. REDES-Amigos de la Tierra Uruguay, Uruguay
299. Yemeni Observatory for Human Rights, Yemen