Columbia International Affairs Online: Policy Briefs

CIAO DATE: 07/2011

The coming harmonization of climate change policy and international investment law

Daniel M. Firger

May 2011

Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment


Developments in climate change policy and international investment law may be ushering in a new era characterized by profound harmonization between the two regimes. Although policy instruments such as the Kyoto Protocol’s “Clean Development Mechanism” (CDM) have been in existence for years, it is only relatively recently that the international community has turned to low-carbon foreign direct investment (FDI) and away from command-and-control regulation as the preferred means by which to achieve future greenhouse gas emissions reductions. Meanwhile, states have begun to renegotiate international investment agreements (IIAs) or sign new treaties to take into account policy goals, including climate change mitigation, that extend beyond the regime’s traditional preoccupation with investor protection. Though still somewhat tentative, emerging trends in both arenas are thus showing unmistakable signs of convergence.