10 May 2022 Virtual event
The seventh annual OECD Investment Treaty Conference addressed investment treaties and the climate crisis, a defining challenge for government policy makers and our societies. Along with a public consultation held from Jan-Mar 2022 and other input, the Conference is contributing to ongoing government-led work on investment treaties and climate change at the OECD.
In 2020, the OECD Investment Committee decided to launch broader government-led consideration of the Future of Investment Treaties, with regular participation of experts and stakeholders. The overriding importance of confronting the climate crisis forms a core part of the work, which includes a series of meetings under Chatham House rules over two years. The role of investment treaties, as well as alternative or complementary policy options, is being examined from three angles: sustainability, market access, and implementation mechanisms.
The Conference included discussions with Roger Cox and Philippe Sands QC, moderated by Emiliya Mychasuk, Climate Editor of the Financial Times. Mr. Cox has been the lead lawyer in ground-breaking climate cases including Urgenda v. The Netherlands and Milieudefensie v. Shell. Professor Sands has served as an arbitrator in a range of ISDS cases, has authored a leading textbook on international environmental law and many other books on international law, and frequently appears in major cases before international courts.
One session considered Paris Agreement and net zero alignment of investment treaty policies notably by reference to the Paris Agreement (art. 2.1(c)) aim to make “finance flows consistent with a pathway towards low greenhouse gas emissions and climate-resilient development”.
A second session allowed for discussion of the impact of investment treaties on policy space for climate policies. In its 2022 report, Working Group III of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change expressed concern that much of international governance still promotes fossil fuels and highlighted the role of investment treaties and investor-state dispute settlement.