UK must quit climate-harming energy charter treaty, experts say

(The Guardian, 10 Feb 2023) Secret international court system enables fossil fuel firms to sue governments for lost future profits

Experts have urged the UK to leave the controversial energy charter treaty (ECT), a secret court system that enables fossil fuel companies to sue governments for huge sums over policies that could affect future profits.

The European Commission said this week that remaining part of the treaty would “clearly undermine” climate targets and that an exit by EU countries appeared “inevitable”. Seven EU countries, including France, Germany, Spain and the Netherlands, have already said they will quit the ECT.

More than 100 academics have written to the UK government, stating that “continued membership of the ECT will harm our prospects of limiting global warming to 1.5C because it will prolong the UK’s dependence on fossil fuels and impede the transition to renewable energy”.

The ECT’s courts were set up in 1994 to protect energy companies working in former Soviet Union countries from government expropriation. The UK has backed “modernisation” of the treaty, which has 50 member states. But critics say the court system would remain in place for oil and gas projects for at least a decade, during which time carbon emissions must be reduced by half to keep the 1.5C goal within reach.

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The Guardian, 10 Feb 2023: UK must quit climate-harming energy charter treaty, experts say