In order to eliminate its grave risks for the climate, the ECT would have to undergo significant changes. Fossil fuels would have to be excluded from protection, and the controversial ISDS mechanism would need to be removed. This will never happen because all changes to the treaty have to be agreed unanimously by the 53 signatories. Some of these countries have already made it clear that they do not want to change anything about the treaty. This means that the ongoing 'reform' process will not deliver the results needed to remove the ECT's threat to the clean energy transition.
The longer the ECT stays in force, the more fossil fuel investments will be protected. Instead of wasting valuable time trying to reform a treaty that cannot be reformed, we call on as many ECT members as possible - but at the very least the EU and EU Member States - to withdraw from the Energy Charter Treaty.
However, leaving alone does not make the ECT harmless, because upon withdrawal, a "sunset clause" is triggered that allows investors to make arbitration claims for another 20 years - at least for investments that have been made up until the point of withdrawal. This is deeply problematic. We therefore call on countries to withdraw jointly, and to conclude an additional agreement amongst themselves, in which they revoke their consent to ISDS claims from investors that are based in another country that has withdrawn.
We need to convince European countries that there is no time for inaction, and that they must withdraw from the ECT now in order to clear the path for a swift clean energy transition.
There is some hope that this could really happen as mobilization is growing.
In December 2019, 278 civil society groups and trade unions from member states of the Energy Charter Conference published an open letter about the ECT so called modernization process.
In October 2020, the European Parliament adopted an amendment in the European climate law requiring an end to the protection of investments in fossil fuels under the ECT.
In november 2020 - 280 members of the european Parliament and EU national parliaments from 20 EU member states called EU countries to withdraw from the ECT if protection of foreign investment in fossil fuels is not removed from the Treaty.
We also know that France, Spain and Luxembourg are in favour of a joint withdrawal, if the ECT reform doesn't deliver. This means pressure is already building on the inside and we need to strengthen these voices by building public pressure from the outside.
This is why we have prepared this letter to alert decision-makers in Europe and in the other signatory countries of the treaty. We intend to continue collecting signatures until our requests have been taken into account. Please help us to make this appeal known.
This letter is initiated by two scientists, Prof Julia Steinberger and Dr Yamina Saheb, both lead authors of the upcoming IPCC report.