May 22, 2024

Great Britain is leaving the Energy Charter Treaty – when will Austria follow?

© Guy Stachowiak –

And the agreement limits democratic intent to action on climate protection

“Remaining a member will not support our transition to cleaner, cheaper energy and could penalize us for our world-leading efforts to deliver net zero.”
UK Department for Energy Security and Net Zero, 22 February 2024

Yesterday, February 22, the British government announced its withdrawal from the controversial Energy Charter Treaty (ECT). The deal gives fossil fuel companies the power to sue for billions through collateral justice if new climate protection laws threaten their profits. So it jeopardizes the energy transition.

So attack Austria Economy Minister Martin Kocher Great Britain and several EU countries* have either announced or already done so to withdraw from the agreement.

The climate crisis will not allow for further hesitation

“February 22, 2024 is a good day for climate protection and a big win for the climate movement. Because the most important non-EU treaty partner with Great Britain is pulling out of this climate killer deal. This significantly reduces the risk of future corporate lawsuits against energy conversion. British companies in particular have sued several EU countries in recent years,” explains Iris Frey from Attack Austria.

Frey: “Now it's time for Austria to finally leave. Because the agreement limits the democratic ambition for greater climate protection and puts the energy transition at risk. The climate crisis leaves no room for further hesitation.”

No decision has yet been made on leaving Austria. Climate Protection Minister Leonor Küssler argues for an exit, but Economy Minister Kocher blocks it. The EU Commission wants a unified EU to leave the ECT. The Belgian EU Council Presidency is also currently trying to get EU countries to leave.


The Energy Charter Treaty is an agreement between 53 states, including the European Union. It also enables fossil fuel companies to sue in private arbitration courts for damages over new climate protection laws if their profits are threatened. Examples of this include corporate lawsuits against coal extraction in the Netherlands, against a ban on fracking in Slovenia, or against a ban on oil rigs in Italy. The EU has been trying for years to bring the agreement in line with the Paris climate goals. However, this was not successful. Due to this, many states are withdrawing from the agreement.

Why withdrawal from the Energy Charter Treaty is inevitable. By Christina Ekes, Professor of European Law at the University of Amsterdam; Leah Main-Klingst, lawyer at NGO Client Earth; Lucas Schock is a lawyer at the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD).

* Includes Germany, France, Italy, Poland, Spain, Netherlands, Slovenia, Portugal and Luxembourg.

David Walch

Article posted online: / Doris Holler /