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Trans Mountain Insurer Aspen Commits to Cut Ties with the Tar Sands Pipeline

Lloyd’s of London member Aspen Insurance has pledged to cut ties with the Trans Mountain (TMX) tar sands pipeline after its current insurance policy expires in summer 2022.
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.”

Aspen is the seventeenth insurers to rule out insuring the toxic pipeline. It follows Chubb and Argo Group in 2021, which cited climate, environmental, and social risks.

 

No consent for TMX

Front-line community leaders supported the move. Charlene Aleck of the Tsleil-Waututh Nation Sacred Trust Initiative said:

“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 pipeline. The project would increase emissions equivalent to 2.2 million cars and has been delayed for years in the face of Indigenous-led resistance.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and the International Energy Agency reports have made it clear. Any new fossil fuel infrastructure is incompatible with global climate goals of limiting temperature increases to below 1.5 degrees C. This includes the Trans Mountain pipeline.

 

Mounting Pressure on Lloyds

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

Since this campaign began, we've seen insurers at Lloyd’s of London come under increasing pressure to cut ties with Trans Mountain. Aspen is listening, but Lloyd’s syndicates like Arch and Beazley must follow suit. 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.

 

The campaign is working...

In February 2021, the Canadian-owned Trans Mountain corporation petitioned the Canada Energy Regulator to keep the names of its insurance backers secret. It stated that it had “observed increasing reluctance from insurance companies to offer insurance coverage for the Pipeline and to do so at a reasonable price.”

This shows that the tar sands exclusion policies increasingly adopted by insurers are having a tangible impact on the price and availability of insurance for the sector.

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. Elana Sulakshana, Senior Energy Finance Campaigner at Rainforest Action Network said:

“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."

 

What next to stop TMX?

Aspen needs to clarify that its commitment rules out all parts of the existing Trans Mountain pipeline and the expansion project in the future.

It's time for TMX's other insurers to rule out continued support for the project and the tar sands sector. This includes Energy Insurance Limited, Liberty Mutual, Lloyd’s of London and syndicates, Starr, Stewart Specialty Risk Underwriting, and W.R. Berkley.

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