Read more at the Global ISDS Tracker website.

$114 billion has been awarded to investors in secret corporate courts, new data reveals



Investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) clauses in trade and investment agreements allow companies to take legal action against states and their climate protection measures. New data reveals the staggering scale of corporate claims brought against countries led by the fossil fuel industry.

5 June 2024 — Celebrating World Environment Day, the Transnational Institute, the Trade Justice Movement and PowerShift have jointly launched a new ‘Global ISDS tracker’ website which tells the story of how secretive corporate tribunals are delaying climate action and threatening our future. New data analysis reveals that to date a staggering $114 billion public money has been awarded to investors with the largest sums going to the fossil fuel industry.

“The data shows that there is a consistent trend of foreign investors using these corporate courts to sue countries that implement environmental policy. And it is mostly investors located in the USA and Europe suing countries in Latin America and Africa.” says Lucía Bárcena, Trade Policy Officer at the Transnational Institute.

The data also illustrates a consistent increase in fossil fuel-related cases over the past three decades, amounting to 261 in total. Among the top 10 most expensive awarded cases, 8 are related to fossil fuels. Fossil fuels are also on average much larger than non-fossil fuel claims and can devastate public budgets — sharply increasing the likelihood that a government gives in to the investor’s demands. With fossil fuel assets worth trillions protected by ISDS, the threat of arbitration poses a serious obstacle to the transition to a fossil-free world.

“The data backs up what we’ve been saying for years: ISDS is the secret weapon for fossil fuel companies against climate laws. Corporate courts are also used to threaten governments not to give into popular local or national demands for climate action. This needs to be put to an end and the data shows reform is urgently needed.” says Tom Wills, Director of the Trade Justice Movement.

”The injustice is glaringly obvious: countries in the Global South are the main victims of ISDS, while corporations from Europe and North America benefit. It transfers public money into the hands of a few corporations and their shareholders. This has to stop. It is high time for countries everywhere to leave the treaties that include ISDS so that they can build a fair and sustainable future.” says Fabian Flues, Researcher and Campaigner at PowerShift

“In this challenging moment, when there is more climate action needed from States, it is unbearable to have corporate courts that can wash all the efforts away. Getting rid of investment protection agreements that protect fossil fuel companies and mining companies should be our number one priority in the next few years.” says Lucía Bárcena, Trade Policy Officer at the Transnational Institute.

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About the Global ISDS tracker website

The Global ISDS Tracker website with an incorporated database contains information on all publicly known 1362 ISDS cases. The information is updated annually. The database allows you to navigate through the complexities of ISDS cases, shedding light on the urgent need for reform and accountability in global investment practices. The Global ISDS tracker is a joint initiative from the Transnational Institute, the Trade Justice Movement and PowerShift.

About Transnational Institute

The Transnational Institute (TNI) is an international research and advocacy institute committed to building a just, democratic and sustainable planet. For 50 years, TNI has served as a unique nexus between social movements, engaged scholars and policy makers.

About the Trade Justice Movement

The Trade Justice Movement is a UK coalition of nearly sixty civil society organisations, with millions of individual members, calling for trade rules that work for people and planet. Our members include trade unions, aid agencies, environment and human rights campaigns, Fair Trade organisations and consumer groups. Together we are calling for trade justice, not free trade, with the rules weighted to ensure sustainable outcomes for ordinary people and the environment.

About PowerShift

PowerShift shows ways out of the climate crisis. Their goal is an ecologically and socially fairer world. To this end, they conduct comprehensive research into political processes, identify the problems of an unjust global economic system and develop alternative courses of action.

Shaun Matsheza, Media contact, the Transnational Institute:

Catherine Callens, Senior Communications Adviser, the Trade Justice Movement:

Adrian Bornmann, Press and Public Relations Officer, PowerShift:

*As part of the ongoing work on Climate Justice, the International Accountability Project and Early Warning System contributed to this important campaign through data management and creating the data visualization for the Global ISDS Tracker Database. Read more about IAP’s Climate Justice work.



International Accountability Project (IAP)

IAP is a human and environmental rights organization that works with communities, civil society and social movements to change how today’s development is done.