Silent Expansion: The Energy Charter Treaty (ECT)

Season 1, Episode 11,  Apr 15, 2020, 02:00 PM

This episode of State of Power, co-produced by CEO, SEATINI and TNI, is based on their latest briefing, Silent Expansion, which follows an in-depth report on the Energy Charter treaty published in 2018. The work on the ECT is part of the broader research and advocacy work that CEO, SEATINI and TNI have been carrying out during the last decade exposing the dangers of the international investment regime.

Two decades ago, and without significant public debate, an obscure international investment agreement entered into force. The Energy Charter Treaty (ECT) gives foreign investors in the energy sector sweeping powers to sue states for millions of dollars over government actions that have supposedly ‘damaged’ their investments. 

In recent years, the ECT has become increasingly controversial – because of its potential to obstruct the transition from climate-wrecking fossil fuels towards renewable energy. It also has the capacity to lock-in failed energy privatisations, and undermines the provision of energy at affordable prices. But despite the growing controversy, countries in the global south, particularly in Africa,  are in the process of joining this outdated and damaging treaty. 


  • Faith Lumonya, Programme Officer, Trade and Investment Programme, SEATINI Uganda
  • Pia Eberhardt, researcher with Corporate Europe Observatory
  • Cecilia Olivet, Coordinator, Trade and Investment programme, TNI.

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Image source: Gretar Ívarsson: Wikimedia "The Nesjavellir Geothermal Power Plant in Þingvellir, Iceland"