14 insurers to date ruled out Trans Mountain; 25 actions across 4 continents call for remaining insurers to drop the pipeline as company faces August 31 deadline
Global (June 16, 2021) – As the Trans Mountain pipeline attempts to secure insurance coverage for 2021-2022, Indigenous Peoples, communities, and climate activists worldwide are calling on all remaining insurance companies to cut ties with the pipeline. The Global Week of Action June 14-21 includes protests, demonstrations, murals, and educational outreach in 25 cities, including Vancouver, Seattle, London, New York, Sydney, and Kenema, Sierra Leone, a significant escalation in international pressure on the pipeline’s insurers.
Insurance is a prerequisite for the pipeline’s continued operation: it requires at least US $500 million of insurance to operate under Canadian law. With Trans Mountain’s current insurance certificate expiring August 31, the pipeline is currently trying to finalize its next policy.
Scor—which was previously linked to the pipeline—just committed not to insure it, bringing the number of insurers who have ruled it out to 14. The company’s increasingly scarce options for obtaining insurance represent a threat to its construction and operation. As the number of insurance companies with the expertise and risk appetite for insuring tar sands dwindles, activists are calling on insurers listed in the most recent public certificate, including Liberty Mutual, AIG, Chubb, and Lloyd’s of London, to drop the pipeline.
“The Trans Mountain pipeline and tanker project is an existential threat to Tsleil-Waututh Nation. It also fuels the climate crisis, which is a threat to us all. This is why Tsleil-Waututh Nation does not grant our Free, Prior, Informed Consent, and why we are calling on all insurance companies to drop Trans Mountain and recognize the violation of Indigenous rights as a material risk,” said Charlene Aleck of the Tsleil-Waututh Nation Sacred Trust Initiative.
“The Trans Mountain Pipeline has a long history of violating Indigenous rights, wreaking havoc on Indigenous territories, and bringing violence to Indigenous communities. Now, the Trans Mountain Expansion threatens further destruction and is being used to unjustly criminalize Indigenous land defenders. It is past time for insurance companies to sever ties with the pipeline and its expansion, and to put in place policies that include FPIC in their due diligence requirements,” said Vicky Tauli-Corpuz, former UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
The Week of Action comes on the heels of the cancellation of Keystone XL and thousands of water protectors protesting Line 3, and a month after the International Environmental Agency concluded that there is no room for fossil fuel expansion in a 1.5 degree pathway. The insurance industry has come under increasing pressure to sever ties with fossil fuels, most recently from United Nations Secretary General António Guterres.
Actions happening this week include:
In Vancouver, B.C., Indigenous leaders and climate activists will be speaking, singing, and collectively making art outside of Liberty Mutual’s office.
In New York City, community members will be rallying at Chubb’s Headquarters in midtown, calling on CEO Evan Greenberg to step up as a climate leader and drop Trans Mountain.
In London, a group of mothers with Mothers Rise Up will be delivering a giant Father’s Day card to Lloyd’s of London Chairman Bruce Carnegie-Brown, urging Lloyd’s to stop insuring Trans Mountain and all fossil fuel projects.
In Kenema, Sierra Leone, youth are raising awareness of the role of the insurance industry in backing Trans Mountain and connecting the project’s carbon footprint to local climate impacts including life-threatening floods.
In the Pacific Islands, the Pacific Climate Warriors are organizing a paddle urging insurers to cut ties with Trans Mountain, in solidarity with Indigenous communities impacted by tar sands.
“Every morning, we wake up and the ocean is there, surrounding our island. But now the ocean, driven by climate change, is creeping ever closer. Unless something changes, many of our Pacific Islands face losing everything to sea level rise. This is why the Pacific is standing in solidarity with Indigenous land defenders and environmental groups in Canada to stop insuring the Trans Mountain Pipeline. We are not drowning. We are fighting,” said George Nacewa of Pacific Climate Warriors.
In the lead up to the Week of Action, activists contacted insurance executives to demand they drop the pipeline. In response, Argo Group said that it currently insures the pipeline but would not renew its policy, and Scor and Lancashire ruled it out. This brings the total number of insurers committed not to insure Trans Mountain to 14. Last summer, in response to Indigenous resistance, Munich Re, Talanx and lead insurer Zurich dropped the pipeline.
The pipeline cited difficulty securing insurance in its request to hide the names of its insurers, which the Canadian Energy Regulator granted in April.
Experts pointed out that insurers have numerous reasons to distance themselves from the pipeline: aging infrastructure, ballooning costs, safety concerns, the danger of becoming a stranded asset, and Indigenous resistance, which can present significant financial and reputational costs for companies.
“Justin Trudeau’s government is still moving ahead with the Trans Mountain Expansion despite the risks. This pipeline is a disaster for the climate, fresh drinking water, and Indigenous rights. It is long past time that our government caught up to where a growing number of major insurance companies are and canceled this disastrous pipeline,” said Sven Biggs, Canadian Oil and Gas Program Director with Stand.earth.
Grand Chief Stewart Phillip: “Expanding the Canadian tar sands with another 590,000 barrels a day is like adding the pollution from 13 million new vehicles on the roads every year, or cutting down 70 million acres of forest. Trans Mountain is a disaster for the climate in a climate emergency, and any spill from an oil tanker could cause devastation in coastal waters from British Columbia, Washington, and Oregon to California. Insurance companies like Liberty Mutual, AIG and Chubb need to stop providing project-critical insurance to fossil fuel projects that violate the Free, Prior and Informed Consent of the proper Title holders. A global movement is mobilizing to shut down financing for fossil fuels. The only question is whether insurers will make the right decision before they suffer critical reputational damage for violating Indigenous rights.”
Jackie Fielder, Stop the Money Pipeline Coalition: “Insurers are beginning to recognize the risks posed by fossil fuel companies and their violation of Indigenous rights. It’s time for the insurance industry to take the climate and reputational risks of this toxic pipeline seriously and recognize that this pipeline has no place in our future.”
Hannah Saggau, Climate Campaign Coordinator with Public Citizen: “By providing insurance for the tar sands sector, insurance companies like AIG, Chubb, and Liberty Mutual are complicit in Indigenous rights violations and enabling environmental disaster. Activists around the globe are standing with frontline communities to call on insurers to publicly commit to ruling out insurance for its pipeline network and all tar sands.”
Jordan Giaconia, Sierra Club campaign representative: “As extreme weather driven by climate change intensifies and we shift toward a fossil-free economy, nothing could be a riskier bet for insurance companies than backing a massive tar sands pipeline expansion that would trample on Indigenous rights, jeopardize the region’s iconic wildlife, and exacerbate the climate crisis. This week, communities around the world are sending a clear signal to the insurance industry that they must drop their support for the Trans Mountain pipeline.”
Mary Lovell, Rainforest Action Network: “The Trans Mountain pipeline and sevenfold increase of supertanker traffic associated with its expansion should be a major concern to anyone who breathes air and drinks water. The pipeline is an expansion of the largest industrial project on the planet that poisons clean drinking water. Insurers need to drop their multimillion dollar deals with this harmful project.”
Liberty’s Climate Crisis is a campaign made up of climate justice, Indigenous rights, and consumer protection organizations that work together to pressure Liberty Mutual to align its business practices with a healthy and habitable planet for all.