Investor-State Dispute Settlement: Obstructing a Just Energy Transition

FAQ: What is Investor-State Dispute Settlement and What Does it Mean for Climate Action?

Boston University Global Development Policy Center

Photo by Zachary Theodore via Unsplash.

A controversial legal process known as investor-state dispute settlements (ISDS) is making it difficult for governments to mobilize finance for ambitious climate action.

When assets are protected by international investment treaties, like the Energy Charter Treaty, legal claims can be brought against countries by investors who feel they are negatively impacted by government policies. For example, Italy was recently ordered to pay UK-based oil/gas company Rockhopper more than €190 million for the Italian government’s refusal to grant an offshore oil concession. A May 2022 study in Science found potential ISDS claims globally could total as much as $340 billion.

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Energy charter treaty makes climate action nearly illegal in 52 countries – so how can we leave it?

Published: July 6, 2022 6.28pm BST

Five young people whose resolve was hardened by floods and wildfires recently took their governments to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR). Their claim concerns each country’s membership of an obscure treaty they argue makes climate action impossible by protecting fossil fuel investors.

The energy charter treaty has 52 signatory countries which are mostly EU states but include the UK and Japan. The claimants are suing 12 of them including France, Germany and the UK – all countries in which energy companies are using the treaty to sue governments over policies that interfere with fossil fuel extraction. For example, the German company RWE is suing the Netherlands for €1.4 billion (£1.2 billion) because it plans to phase out coal.

The claimants aim to force their countries to exit the treaty and are supported by the Global Legal Action Network, a campaign group with an ongoing case against 33 European countries they accuse of delaying action on climate change. The prospects for the current application going to a hearing at the ECHR look good. But how simple is it to prise countries from the influence of this treaty?

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Emissions from Oil and Gas Operations in Net Zero Transitions

A World Energy Outlook Special Report on the Oil and Gas Industry and COP28

Today, oil and gas operations account for around 15% of total energy-related emissions globally, the equivalent of 5.1 billion tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions. In the International Energy Agency’s Net Zero Emissions by 2050 Scenario, the emissions intensity of these activities falls by 50% by the end of the decade. Combined with the reductions in oil and gas consumption in this scenario, this results in a 60% reduction in emissions from oil and gas operations to 2030.

Fortunately, oil and gas producers have a clear opportunity to address the problem of emissions from their activities through a series of ready-to-implement and costeffective measures. These include tackling methane emissions, eliminating all non-emergency flaring, electrifying upstream facilities with low-emissions electricity, equipping oil and gas processes with carbon capture, utilisation and storage technologies, and expanding the use of hydrogen from low-emissions electrolysis in refineries.

Upfront investments totalling USD 600 billion would be required to halve the emissions intensity of oil and gas operations globally by 2030. This is only a fraction of the record windfall income that oil and gas producers accrued in 2022 – a year of soaring energy prices amid a global energy crisis. This report aims to inform discussions on these issues in the run-up to the COP28 Climate Change Conference in Dubai in November and is part of a broader World Energy Outlook special report to be released later in 2023 focusing on the role of the oil and gas industry in net zero transitions.

Full report here

Global warming to bring record hot year by 2028 – probably our first above 1.5°C limit

Academic rigour, journalistic flair, The Conversation

Lindsey Wasson/AP/AAP

Published: May 17, 2023 11.01am BST


  1. Andrew KingSenior Lecturer in Climate Science, The University of Melbourne

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Andrew King receives funding from the National Environmental Science Program.


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One year in the next five will almost certainly be the hottest on record and there’s a two-in-three chance a single year will cross the crucial 1.5℃ global warming threshold, an alarming new report by the World Meteorological Organization predicts.

The report, known as the Global Annual to Decadal Climate Update, warns if humanity fails to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to net zero, increasingly worse heat records will tumble beyond this decade.

So what is driving the bleak outlook for the next five years? An expected El Niño, on top of the overall global warming trend, will likely push the global temperature to record levels.

Has the Paris Agreement already failed if the global average temperature exceeds the 1.5℃ threshold in one of the next five years? No, but it will be a stark warning of what’s in store if we don’t quickly reduce emissions to net zero.

boy plays in fountain during heatwave
One year in the next five will almost certainly be the hottest on record, bringing more heatwaves like this boy experienced in Britain around the time the last record was set. Andy Rain/EPA

Read more: Two trillion tonnes of greenhouse gases, 25 billion nukes of heat: are we pushing Earth out of the Goldilocks zone?

Warming makes record heat inevitable

The World Meteorological Organization update says there is a 98% chance at least one of the next five years will be the hottest on record. And there’s a 66% chance of at least one year over the 1.5℃ threshold.

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Eight things the world must do to avoid the worst of climate change

Latest IPCC report highlights key measures countries must take to avoid climate catastrophe

Fiona Harvey, Environment editor, The Guardian Tue 21 Mar 2023 19.10 GMT

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change published the “synthesis report” of its sixth assessment report (AR6) on Monday. Eight years in preparation, this mammoth report encompasses the entire range of human knowledge of the climate system, compiled by hundreds of scientists from thousands of academic papers, and published in four parts, in August 2021, February and April 2022, and March 2023.

The report drew together the most important findings – but also highlighted some key measures that governments and countries must take immediately if we are to avoid climate catastrophe:

Reduce methane

A flare to burn methane from oil production in North Dakota, US.
A flare to burn methane from oil production in North Dakota, US. Photograph: Matthew Brown/AP

Sharp cuts to short-lived climate pollutants, methane chief among them, could cut more than half a degree from global heating. Produced from oil and gas operations and coalmines, and from animal husbandry and natural sources – such as decaying vegetation – methane is a greenhouse gas about 80 times more powerful than carbon dioxide. But it lasts only for about 20 years before degrading into CO2.

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Cop28 will be the first to dedicate a day to health and climate

By Fiona Harvey | May 4, 2023

masked women working at a food stall Photo by Jérémy Stenuit on Unsplash

Editor’s note: This story was originally published by The Guardian. It appears here as part of the Climate Desk collaboration.

The next UN climate summit will be the first to consider health issues in depth, with a meeting of global health ministers to highlight the consequences of the climate crisis for wellbeing.

Sultan Al Jaber, the president of Cop28, which will take place in Dubai this November, said on Tuesday: “We will be the first Cop to dedicate a day to health and the first to host a health and climate ministerial. And we need to broaden our definition of adaptation to enable global climate resilience, transform food systems and enhance forestry land use and water management.”

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Andrew Steer: We must de-risk the energy transition for developing nations

In 2020, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos committed $10bn to create the Bezos Earth Fund, to help address the pressing issues of climate change. And, since then, the fund’s chief executive, Andrew Steer — who joined from the World Resources Institute, following a stint as the World Bank’s special envoy for climate change — has focused its efforts on funding energy transition.

At the COP 27 conference in Egypt, last November, Steer, alongside John Kerry, the US special presidential envoy for climate, and the philanthropic Rockefeller Foundation, announced plans for an Energy Transition Accelerator (ETA) programme, to bring private capital to clean energy transition projects in emerging and developing economies. It’s aim was to do this by verifying the greenhouse gas emission reductions from transition projects, which participating jurisdictions would be able to issue as marketable carbon credits. Under the still to be developed proposal, these credits might then be purchased by companies to achieve their net zero emission targets, creating a predictable finance stream to de-risk costly transition investment.

In March, Steer joined the FT’s climate editor, Emiliya Mychasuk, at the FT Climate Capital Live event, to give an update on the ETA’s progress.

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Đồng bằng sông Cửu Long: Cát không phép chiếm 86% thị trường

Thứ Ba, 20/12/2022 16:59  | Nguyễn Nhân

(CATP) Ngày 19-12 tại TP.Cần Thơ, Tổ chức quốc tế về bảo tồn thiên nhiên Việt Nam (WWF – Việt Nam) phối hợp với Báo Nông nghiệp Việt Nam tổ chức tọa đàm với chủ đề “Quản lý cát bền vững ở ĐBSCL và giải pháp nào cho tình trạng khan hiếm cát dưới góc nhìn chuyên gia và truyền thông” với sự tham gia các nhà quản lý, chuyên gia, cơ quan báo, đài. Tại đây, nhiều chuyên gia cho rằng không nên khai thác “cát biển” để làm nguồn vật liệu thay thế, bởi như vậy là chúng ta đang “cắt đứt đôi chân” của mình.

40% Diện tích đồng bằng sẽ biến mất?

Vùng ĐBSCL là một trong những khu vực kinh tế trọng điểm của Việt Nam, đóng góp 31,37% GDP ngành nông nghiệp, 50% sản lượng lúa, 65% sản lượng nuôi trồng thủy sản, 70% sản lượng trái cây, 95% lượng gạo xuất khẩu và 60% sản lượng cá xuất khẩu. Tuy nhiên, nơi đây đang chịu tác động mạnh do biến đổi khí hậu cùng các hiện tượng cực đoan như: hạn hán, xâm nhập mặn, sạt lở. Tình trạng khai thác cát quá mức đã làm gia tăng sạt lở bờ sông, ảnh hưởng không nhỏ đến đời sống người dân đồng bằng. Do đó, việc quản lý khai thác cát một cách hiệu quả và bền vững cần những giải pháp căn cơ và lâu dài.

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Global shipping is under pressure to stop its heavy fuel oil use fast – that’s not simple, but changes are coming

Published: April 24, 2023 1.26pm BST

Most of the clothing and gadgets you buy in stores today were once in shipping containers, sailing across the ocean. Ships carry over 80% of the world’s traded goods. But they have a problem – the majority of them burn heavy sulfur fuel oil, which is a driver of climate change.

While cargo ships’ engines have become more efficient over time, the industry is under growing pressure to eliminate its carbon footprint.

European Union legislators reached an agreement to require an 80% drop in shipping fuels’ greenhouse gas intensity by 2050 and to require shipping lines to pay for the greenhouse gases their ships release. The International Maritime Organization, the United Nations agency that regulates international shipping, also plans to strengthen its climate strategy this summer. The IMO’s current goal is to cut shipping emissions 50% by 2050. President Joe Biden said on April 20, 2023, that the U.S. would push for a new international goal of zero emissions by 2050 instead.

We asked maritime industry researcher Don Maier if the industry can meet those tougher targets.

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Why is it so hard for shipping to transition away from fossil fuels?

Economics and the lifespan of ships are two primary reasons.

Most of the big shippers’ fleets are less than 20 years old, but even the newer builds don’t necessarily have the most advanced technology. It takes roughly a year and a half to come out with a new build of a ship, and it will still be based on technology from a few years ago. So, most of the engines still run on fossil fuel oil.

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Asia’s prolonged April heatwave concerns scientists

‘Exceptional’ conditions raise fears about a hotter 2023

Scatterplot chart showing high temperature records for countries in continental Asia

Countries across Asia suffered soaring April temperatures, prompting warnings from scientists that 2023 could set new heat records as climatic patterns change and global warming accelerates. Temperatures climbed to highs of 45C in Myanmar, 44.5C in India and 41.9C in China, according to the climatologist and weather historian Maximiliano Herrera, with Thailand and Laos breaking all-time high records.

At least 13 people were reported to have died from heat stroke in Mumbai, India, while parts of Bangladesh endured power cuts as electricity demand surged in the unusual conditions. More than 100 weather stations in China recorded all-time high temperatures for April.

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Death threats, trolling and sexist abuse: climate scientists report online attacks

Survey highlights experiences of dozens of climate researchers who have endured online harassment related to their work.

Close-up of the hands of a woman typing on a laptop at night
Among 468 survey respondents, 39% said they have experienced online harassment or abuse related to their climate research.Credit: Oscar Wong/Getty

In 2013, Richard Betts called the police because someone online threatened to string him up with piano wire. The threat happened after Betts, a climate scientist at the University of Exeter, UK, tweeted about the rising temperatures the world would experience the following year. This wasn’t the first time someone had responded negatively to his comments about climate change; nor would it be the last. And Betts isn’t alone.

survey by the international non-governmental organization Global Witness hints at the extent of online abuse faced by scientists working on climate topics worldwide, some of which takes a toll on their work or well-being.

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How using tree rings to look into the past can teach us about the climate changes we face in the future

“The longer you can look back, the farther you can look forward,” Winston Churchill proclaimed to the Royal College of Physicians in 1944, invoking a much older idea known as “uniformitarianism”.

Coined by geologists James Hutton and Charles Lyell, this is the idea that past processes (like erosion or climate change) that have altered the Earth over time remain similar, so we can analyse them to understand the consequences of future processes – such as how climate change might shape our planet in the years to come.

This principle of looking to the past to see the future still guides the science of palaeoclimatology, or the study of past climates.

For example, the geological record tells us there were palm trees in Antarctica many millions of years ago, when CO₂ was at 1,000 parts per million in our planet’s atmosphere.

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Looking back to this period, when our planet was experiencing naturally high CO₂ levels, helps us study what life on Earth might look like if our attempts to reach net zero emissions fail and greenhouse gas emission rates continue to rise.

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Quảng Bình: Liên tiếp các vụ phá rừng bị phát hiện và xử lý

Xử lý chưa đủ răn đe nên phá rừng vẫn diễn biến phức tạp ở Đắk Nông?

TÀI NGUYÊN – Thanh Tùng – 11:25 07/04/2023

(TN&MT) – Từ đầu năm 2023 đến nay, trên địa bàn tỉnh Quảng Bình liên tiếp xảy ra các vụ chặt phá rừng nghiêm trọng. Đáng chú ý, trong số các đối tượng bị phát hiện có cả người nguyên là lãnh đạo chính quyền xã. Thực trạng này đang dấy lên hồi chuông cảnh báo về kỷ cương trong công tác bảo vệ, phát triển rừng tại Quảng Bình.

Liên tiếp các vụ phá rừng

Khoảng giữa tháng 2/2023, nhiều diện tích rừng ở khu vực giáp ranh giữa xã Kim Hoá, Lê Hoá (Tuyên Hoá) và xã Hồng Hóa (Minh Hoá) bị chặt phá, xâm lấn đã bị phát hiện. Theo kết quả điều tra, xác minh của Hạt Kiểm lâm Tuyên Hóa, khu vực rừng bị phá hoại xảy ra tại khoảnh 3, 4, tiểu khu 56B, thuộc địa giới hành chính xã Kim Hóa (Tuyên Hóa). Diện tích thiệt hại hơn 3,4 ha, thuộc trạng thái rừng tự nhiên nghèo kiệt, quy hoạch sản xuất. Tổng khối lượng gỗ bị chặt phá hơn 136 m3.

Nhiều cây gỗ lớn bị đốn hạ tại khu vực giáp ranh giữa xã Kim Hoá, Lê Hoá (Tuyên Hoá) và xã Hồng Hóa (Minh Hoá). Ảnh: Baoquangbinh

Khu vực rừng bị phá hoại này đã được cấp có thẩm quyền giao và cấp giấy chứng nhận quyền sử dụng đất cho các chủ rừng là ông Phạm Văn Thuyết (SN 1963) và bà Đặng Thị Hướng (SN 1972), cùng trú tại thôn Kim Ninh, xã Kim Hóa (Tuyên Hóa), nhằm mục đích quản lý, bảo vệ.

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Muốn bán tín chỉ carbon, trước tiên phải có uy tín về bảo vệ rừng

Quảng Nam vừa được Chính phủ đồng ý thí điểm kinh doanh tín chỉ carbon (CO2). Đây là tín hiệu vui cả cho sự phát triển kinh tế lẫn công tác bảo vệ môi trường, bảo vệ rừng.

Muốn bán tín chỉ carbon, trước tiên phải có uy tín về bảo vệ rừng
Một vụ đốt rừng để trồng rừng vừa xảy ra giữa tháng 5.2021 tại huyện Phước Sơn, Quảng Nam. Ảnh: Huy Kha

UBND Quảng Nam cho biết, Văn phòng Chính phủ vừa có Công văn gửi cho Bộ NN&PTNT và chính quyền tỉnh này về việc đồng ý cho phép Quảng Nam lập đề án thí điểm kinh doanh tín chỉ carbon.

Theo Bộ NN&PTNT, mỗi năm Việt Nam có thể bán ra thị trường thế giới 57 triệu tín chỉ carbon. Nếu được giá bán 5 USD/tín chỉ, thì mỗi năm Việt Nam có thể thu về hàng trăm triệu USD.

Trong đó, Quảng Nam với 628.000 ha rừng tự nhiên, mỗi năm có khả năng bán được 1 triệu tín chỉ carbon ra thị trường thế giới. Nếu thành công với đề án này thì bình quân mỗi năm tỉnh này sẽ thu được từ 5 triệu đến 10 triệu USD.

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Cà phê Tây Nguyên – Những cơn khát

tiasang – Võ Kiều Bảo Uyên

Thiếu nước đang đe dọa cây cà phê ở Tây Nguyên, nhưng ở chiều ngược lại, cây cà phê cũng đẩy vùng đất này đối mặt với những cơn khát do các hoạt động canh tác thiếu bền vững.

Cây cà phê héo rũ vì khát nước ở Đắk Lắk. Ảnh: Thành Nguyễn

Vài tháng trong năm, khi cây cà phê chưa vào vụ, bà Hoa(*) sẽ rời quê nhà Đắk Lắk, Tây Nguyên xuống các thành phố phía Nam tìm các công việc thời vụ. Đây là cách một người phụ nữ 50 tuổi kiếm thêm thu nhập khi rẫy cà phê của gia đình bà mấy năm liền năng suất kém do thiếu nước.

“Trong thôn nhiều người cũng đi. Phải đi, vì mình đâu có tin tưởng được là đến mùa sẽ có trái thu hoạch”, nông dân người Thái này nói trong một cuộc phỏng vấn hồi tháng 11 năm ngoái, khi đang làm bảo vệ cho một tòa nhà ở TP.HCM, cách quê bà hơn 300km.

Hạn hán vào mùa khô năm 2020 làm 4 hecta cà phê của bà bị rụng bông, héo cành, không đậu trái. Nhưng đó chưa phải là thứ tệ nhất mà bà Hoa chứng kiến, toàn bộ miếng rẫy đã chết khát trong trận hạn hán lịch sử bốn năm trước đó.

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