Foreign investment and environmental protection entertain both synergistic and conflicting relations. On the one hand, foreign investment can harness the resources (financial and technological) to promote environmental protection through various channels (e.g. Clean Development Mechanism, socially responsible investing and private environmental finance). On the other hand, foreign investment may adversely affect the environment of host State. The BP's Deepwater Horizon tragedy in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010, which caused the largest ever accidental marine oil spill, was a stark reminder of the environmental risks posed by the transnational economic operator.However, as a general matter, only States have legal subjectivity in international law. This paper therefore aims to discuss the extent to which international environmental law can be directly applied to multinational corporations, which helps to clarify the responsibility/liability of the economic operator for internationally wrongful acts in an environmental contextThe first part critically reviews the interaction of three main legal frameworks 'transnational, national and contractual _ for regulating foreign investment and identifies the potential points of convergence and divergence. The second part then turns to how substantive norms of international economic law may support or deter initiatives for environmental protection. The focus will be on the recent Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations and its related chapter 9 (Investment) and chapter 20 (Environment). Finally, this paper also examines the international adjudication and other dispute settlement mechanisms with a view to analysing to what extend these instruments are capable of accounting private enterprises for environmental damages and contributing to global values.
Chung-Han Yang, University of Cambridge, UK
Stream: Economic Sustainability: Environmental Challenges and Economic Growth
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