Climate ambition in Africa webinar, 14 October 2021
On 14 October 2021 at 1pm (SA time) we hosted a webinar with Dr Jenny Hall and Louis Koen on The unintended consequences of international investment treaties on climate ambition in Africa. A recording of the webinar is available here. As was discussed at the webinar in more detail:
There has been increased recognition of the need for countries to reduce their carbon emissions drastically. Governmental responses to stepping up their level of climate ambition must be welcomed. But many of the greenhouse gas emissions that are causing climate change are emitted by big multinational companies, and positive action, in this case, has often fallen far short of the need for drastic emission reductions. Multinationals who publicly support the Paris Agreement are also increasingly resorting to investment arbitration where regulations aimed at climate change mitigation and adaption affects their bottom-line. International investment law poses a range of challenges to states’ efforts to regulate climate change mitigation and adaptation. The inconsistency in the standards applicable to indirect expropriation, for example, makes it difficult for states to determine if specific climate-related legislation will result in successful claims of them being compensable indirect expropriation.
In an African context, investment law poses an even greater threat to climate-related legislation due to the stabilisation clauses which are included in investment treaties that have been signed by several African states. In terms of these stabilisation clauses, African states have effectively surrendered their sovereign right to adopt any new legislation after an investment has been established. Where these clauses are present in an investment treaty, the government would need to compensate the investor for any costs relating to climate change legislation that the investor may need to bear.
The webinar explored some of these challenges and potential solutions for African states to reconcile their investment law and climate ambition.
Louis Koen is an Assistant Lecturer and doctoral candidate in the Faculty of Law at the University of Johannesburg (UJ). His research primarily focuses on the interaction between sustainable development, including attaining decent work, and international economic law. He focuses on how the branches of international economic law can contribute to or undermine the achievement of sustainable development, with a special focus on vulnerable groups such as informal economy workers. He has presented at various international and local conferences on sustainable development, labour and international economic law and publishes on these topics.
Dr Jenny Hall is a senior lecturer in international environmental law and legal skills at the University of Johannesburg (UJ). Before joining UJ in 2018 she consulted for many years to a range of sectors. During this time she drafted several pieces of legislation for government including the National Environmental Management: Air Quality Act, 2004 and the National Environmental Management: Waste Act, 2008. Jenny has also been intimately involved in a number of policy and strategy processes including being the project manager and lead drafter of the National Compliance Monitoring and Enforcement Strategy, 2014 for the Department of Environmental Affairs. Jenny holds BA (UCT) LLB (UCT) LLM (UNISA) and PhD (UCT) degrees. The title of her PhD thesis is The impact of judicial control on the public administration of the environment: 1995 to 2007.
Jenny and Louis have recently joined forces and have been collaborating in a research project which explores the intersection of environmental law and international investment law.
14 Oct 2021
1:00 pm - 2:30 pm