Paul Barker

Paul Barker

Paul Barker

  • Research Fellow

Renewable Energy Investment and International Dispute Settlement

To meet the Paris Agreement aspirational goal to limit post-industrial global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, and thereby hopefully avoid the worst effects of climate change, global emissions must reach net zero by around mid-century.  This unprecedented transformation of the global economy and societies will require investment in the clean energy transition to more than double to over US $4 trillion annually.  Given limited public resources, private investment — backed by government policy support — must provide the lion’s share of funding, particularly in emerging economies.  By helping to de-risk climate-friendly projects, well-designed regulation of foreign investment could therefore potentially play an important role in mobilizing the private capital necessary to close this enormous investment gap.

In this context, Paul’s research focuses in particular on the role of the investment treaty system, and whether it could be utilized to help promote investment in the energy transition around the world.  The investment treaty system governs the promotion and protection of foreign investment and is ultimately backstopped by investor-State dispute settlement (“ISDS”) under a global network of bilateral investment treaties and free trade agreements.  It has already been the forum of many investor-State claims concerning renewable energy policy support and fossil fuel phase outs.

The research is interdisciplinary in approach: it is grounded in a rigorous analysis of the legal frameworks and jurisprudence governing sustainable investment protection and ESG investing, coupled with empirical research into the impact of these rules on the expectations and investment decisions of investors, and the policy decisions of governments.


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