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Trans Mountain insurer Aspen commits to cut ties with the tar sands pipeline

Aspen joins sixteen companies that have ruled out insuring Trans Mountain

Trans Mountain insurer and Lloyd’s of London syndicate Aspen Insurance has pledged to cut ties with the existing Trans Mountain tar sands pipeline when its current insurance policy expires this summer. Aspen joins sixteen insurance companies that have dropped Trans Mountain or vowed not to insure the Trans Mountain Expansion Project.

In an email to Coal Action Network, a spokesperson for Aspen stated:
“As a matter of corporate policy, Aspen does not comment on the specifics of any application for insurance we receive, any insurance or reinsurance contract we underwrite, or any claim we pay, however, we can confirm that we do not plan to renew the Trans Mountain Tar Sands Oil Pipeline project.” 

Charlene Aleck

Tsleil-Waututh Nation Sacred Trust Initiative. 

"By confirming that they are dropping Trans Mountain, Aspen is joining insurance industry leaders in recognizing that fossil fuel infrastructure projects that don’t have Free Prior and Informed Consent are a material risk. It’s time for the rest of the Lloyd’s syndicates and the whole insurance sector to follow suit before the climate crisis gets worse."

A growing number of insurers have recognized the massive risks of the 69-year-old Trans Mountain pipeline and the oil expansion project, which would increase emissions equivalent to adding 2.2 million cars to the road and has been delayed for years in the face of Indigenous-led resistance.

According to recent numbers from the Canadian Ministry of Finance, the projected cost of twinning the Trans Mountain pipeline has nearly tripled. The latest figures show that the current price tag is approximately CA$21.4 billion, and the federal government pledged that it would not give any more money to the pipeline.

Sven Biggs

Canadian Oil and Gas Director for Stand.earth

"The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and the International Energy Agency reports have made clear that the Trans Mountain expansion project and any expanded oil and gas infrastructure is incompatible with achieving global climate targets. Since this campaign was launched seventeen insurers have ruled out insuring Trans Mountain, including Chubb and Argo Group in 2021, citing climate, environmental, and social risks.”

In the UK, Lloyd’s of London has been the target of a range of protests around the Trans Mountain pipeline including 60 people from Extinction Rebellion blocking the entrances at their iconic headquarters last week and a climate memorial led by Pacific Islanders and youth strikers from climate change-affected communities.

Andrew Taylor

Organiser with Coal Action Network

"Over the last two years, insurers at Lloyd’s of London have come under increasing pressure to cut ties with Trans Mountain. It’s brilliant that Aspen is listening, but Lloyd’s syndicates like Arch and Beazley must follow suit, and more broadly we need a step change across the whole Lloyd’s marketplace. We are calling for leadership that mandates all insurers in their marketplace to end underwriting of new fossil fuel projects. While Lloyd’s CEO John Neal blocks meaningful climate action, we expect to see ongoing protests on Lloyd’s doorstep.”

In February 2021, the Canadian-owned Trans Mountain corporation petitioned the Canada Energy Regulator to keep the names of its insurance backers secret, stating that it had “observed increasing reluctance from insurance companies to offer insurance coverage for the Pipeline and to do so at a reasonable price.” The Canada Energy Regulator approved the request on April 29, 2021, and Trans Mountain’s most recent insurance certificate was publicly filed with the insurance company names redacted. The latest insurance certificate will be filed in the next 9 days, and it is also likely to be redacted.

To date, more than seventeen insurance companies have adopted tar sands exclusion policies, which is having a tangible impact on the price and availability of insurance for the sector.

Elana Sulakshana

Senior Energy Finance Campaigner at Rainforest Action Network

"This announcement from Aspen makes clear that the Trans Mountain pipeline network is facing serious risks that financial institutions do not want to support: lack of consent from Indigenous communities, decaying infrastructure, mounting costs, and a massive carbon footprint. However, we urge Aspen to clarify that its commitment extends to not insuring all parts of the existing Trans Mountain pipeline and the expansion project in the future. We also call on Arch, Beazley, and other Lloyd's syndicates to follow suit and drop Trans Mountain, as well as rule out insurance coverage for the entire tar sands sector. History will not look kindly on any company that is continuing to insure massive oil expansion projects in 2022."

Companies named on previous insurance certificates that have yet to rule out continued support for the project or the tar sands sector include Energy Insurance Limited, Liberty Mutual, Lloyd’s of London and syndicates, Starr, Stewart Specialty Risk Underwriting, and W.R. Berkley.

This Thursday, April 21, Coal Action Network and partners are hosting a virtual People’s AGM, in the lead up to Lloyds of London actual Annual General Meeting on May 9.

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