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9 Feb 2023

Joe Lo, Climate Change News

Switzerland won't follow the EU's lead in exiting the Energy Charter Treaty

'Switzerland won’t follow EU out of controversial energy treaty: official', 9 February 2023

Switzerland will not join the European Union’s proposed mass exit from a controversial energy investment protection treaty, according to the official responsible for engaging on the issue.

This week, the European Commission has proposed a joint EU exit from the Energy Charter Treaty (ECT), over fears its protections for fossil fuel investments will slow down climate action.

The United Kingdom’s government said it is “closely monitoring the situation”. The Swiss energy ministry’s Jean-Christophe Fueeg told Climate Home his country, which is not an EU member state, is not leaving.

The Swiss position has sparked fears that fossil fuel companies will restructure their investments through Switzerland in order to keep suing governments over climate action.

E3G campaigner Jonny Peters said: “As the EU looks set to exit the Energy Charter Treaty, there is certainly a risk of companies and law firms treaty shopping [in] Switzerland.”

The Swiss energy ministry’s head of international energy affairs Jean-Christophe Fueeg told Climate Home on Thursday: “No change in Switzerland’s position, especially given that the EU has not come to a position yet.”

Over the last few years, Switzerland has not supported the EU’s push to remove fossil fuel protections from the ECT and did not join the EU and UK in last year announcing a phase-out of fossil fuel protections under the treaty.

Fueeg added: “Just as food for thought: Would you think that Swiss investors, who have billions of assets in the EU (much of it in renewables), would appreciate seeing their investors’ protection rights waived by a Swiss exit?”

Friends of the Earth campaigner Paul De Clerck told Climate Home the treaty is “by  no means crucial for renewable investors” and its “main goal is still the protection of fossil fuels”.

Kyla Tienhaara, who researches trade and the environment at Queen’s University in Canada, told Climate Home she was concerned that EU-based fossil fuel companies will structure their through Switzerland so that they can still be protected under ECT...