UK rejects energy charter along with France, Spain, and the Netherlands

UK leaves Energy Charter Treaty

Green energy. Credit: beboy/

Could the UK’s departure from a major international treaty be a bold move towards a greener future?

On Thursday, February 22, the UK government announced its departure from the Energy Charter Treaty (ECT), joining forces with France, Spain, and the Netherlands.

This decision came after prolonged discussions to modernise the treaty in favour of climate-friendly energy sources reached a deadlock.

The ECT, established in 1994, initially aimed to encourage global investment in the energy sector, mainly protecting fossil fuel investments.

Recent attempts to update the treaty to better facilitate the transition to renewable energy sources ended in a stalemate, despite months of negotiations between European countries.

UK’s commitment to green energy

Energy Security and Net Zero Minister Graham Stuart announced in September 2023 that the UK would be reassessing its ECT membership if the treaty was not revised to reflect current environmental priorities.

The UK’s decision underscores its commitment to achieving net zero emissions and enhancing its energy independence.

By withdrawing, the UK aligns itself with nine other EU member states that have also exited the treaty, including France, Germany, Spain and the Netherlands. The European Parliament elections in 2024 mean modernisation could now be delayed indefinitely.

Global leadership in sustainable investment

‘The Energy Charter Treaty is outdated and in urgent need of reform but talks have stalled and sensible renewal looks increasingly unlikely. Remaining a member would not support our transition to cleaner, cheaper energy, and could even penalise us for our world-leading efforts to deliver net zero,’ concluded Stuart.

The UK boasts of attracting £30 billion in energy sector investments since September, leading global efforts in reducing emissions and drawing international capital. This move aims to provide robust legal safeguards for investors in the UK’s green energy landscape.

Strengthening climate action

Following two years of negotiations, the UK played a pivotal role in a 2022 agreement aimed at refreshing the ECT to support clean energy technologies.

However, the revised treaty faced rejection, leading to an impasse and subsequent withdrawal by several EU states.

Shaun Spiers, executive director, Green Alliance said: ‘Civil society organisations and parliamentarians from all political parties have been clear that the Energy Charter Treaty is an out-of-date agreement and undermines our efforts to tackle climate change.

‘We welcome the UK’s decision to leave, which will strengthen global efforts to roll out cheap, clean renewable energy.’

With its exit, the UK removes future protections for new fossil fuel investments, favouring a transition to sustainable energy sources.

This step also reaffirms the UK’s position as a prime location for energy investment, balancing traditional resources such as oil and gas as part of the transition to net zero, alongside the drive towards renewables, such as wind power and hydrogen.

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Written by

John Ensor

Originally from Doncaster, Yorkshire, John now lives in Galicia, Northern Spain with his wife Nina. He is passionate about news, music, cycling and animals.


    • Geoff Brooks

      23 February 2024 • 15:22

      We have been promised cheap clean energy for years but have yet to see any in the UK.

    • eddie

      23 February 2024 • 20:43

      Note Germany is not getting out, too much lignite left to burn.

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