Last Thursday, 18th May, Coal Action Network protested outside of Lloyd’s of London, for their role in insuring the expansion of the Trans Mountain Pipeline (TMX) and the East Africa Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP).
We built a fake pipeline outside Lloyds of London. Through previous actions outside Lloyds of London, we know that there are many sympathetic staff who do not support their workplace insuring the expansion of the Trans Mountain Pipeline and the East Africa Crude Oil Pipeline. Therefore we are asking staff to sign an open letter to John Neal, CEO of Lloyds of London. The letter demands that he make a clear statement that no Lloyd’s syndicate shall renew or provide insurance for TMX or EACOP, and implement a policy to stop the underwriting of fossil fuel expansion and other carbon-intensive projects by all members of the Lloyd’s marketplace.
We want to shed light onto Lloyd’s of London's appalling environmental record, and the colonialist practices from which Lloyd’s of London grew. From the insurance of slave ships, to the insurance of climate-destroying projects that dispossess indigenous peoples of their land, Lloyd’s of London have blood on their hands.
The TMX pipeline carries diluted bitumen, which is a fossil fuel and the expansion of it leads to further climate catastrophe for local communities and globally. The proposed expansion would transport an additional 590,000 barrels of oil daily, tripling its current capacity.
An increase of this scale cannot be justified at a time when leading scientists have made it clear that there is no room for any additional fossil fuel infrastructure, nor considering the devastating impacts of tar sands specifically. To meet the urgency of the climate crisis, we need to unite together and take action to increase the pressure like never before. In the run-up to Lloyd’s of London’s AGM we have been asked to help indigenous Land Defenders in Canada to cut off insurance to the Trans Mountain Pipeline.
“The Trans Mountain tar sands pipeline threatens my nation and our sacred Sleilwaut (Burrard) inlet; our place of creation. The pipeline poisons our clam beds and violates the rights of many Indigenous communities along its length and at its source. Expanding tar sands extraction and increasing the capacity of the Trans Mountain pipeline network is nothing less than climate destruction,” said Kayah George of Tsleil-Waututh Nation and Tulalip Tribes. “The Lloyd's marketplace and syndicates like Arch urgently need to get the message: it’s time to move away from dirty fossil fuels and instead uplift Indigenous rights, a healthy environment, and a stable climate.”
Campaigning efforts to stop the insurance of the TMX pipeline in 2020 led to three insurance companies cutting ties with the pipeline: Zurich (the lead insurer), Munich Re, and Talanx. We are hoping to build on this momentum to drive away more insurers this year. Already this year specialty insurance and reinsurance firms Aspen Insurance and Arch Insurance have confirmed that they do not plan to renew their insurance of the Trans Mountain Tar Sands Oil Pipeline project when its current insurance policy expires this summer.
The confirmation sees 18 insurance companies that have either dropped Trans Mountain or vowed to rule out insuring the Trans Mountain Expansion Project as climate advocates call for the insurance industry to shore up climate strategies. Lloyd’s of London must follow suit.
Lloyd’s of London member Arch Insurance has committed to no longer insure the Trans Mountain tar sands pipeline after its current insurance policy expires this summer. Arch joins seventeen insurance companies, including fellow Lloyd’s syndicate Aspen most recently, that have dropped Trans Mountain or vowed not to insure the Trans Mountain Expansion Project.
Amid pressure from activists to break ties with the tar sands pipeline expansion, in an email to Coal Action Network, a spokesperson for Arch stated:
“We can confirm that Arch Capital Group Ltd, on behalf of its underwriting operations, will not issue any future insurance policies covering the Trans Mountain Pipeline.”
Trans Mountain experienced firsthand the impacts of climate chaos in 2021. Following historic wildfires in the summer, November brought extreme flooding and mudslides that shut down the existing line for three weeks. This resulted in over two months of lower capacity oil flow.
More than 18,000 people were displaced from their homes in the climate catastrophe.
Trans Mountain pipeline expansion faces severe flooding and river crossing risks which should make insurers run a mile.
Equipment and generators were submerged in the flooded Coquihalla River; then the storms of November 2021 hit, adding half a billion dollars to the project cost.
Despite this, TMX continues to operate recklessly in flood-risk zones according to Ian Stephe of the WaterWealth Project :
"The company is recklessly setting the stage for further problems at the Vedder River crossing in Chilliwack where the river overflowed dikes. The company filed a geotechnical report that was withheld during route approval hearings and that only finds this major river crossing feasible as planned based on assumptions that were outdated when the report was written and that remain unmet. As a community member with a long history on this project, I am concerned about the impacts from this pipeline on waterways, and insurers should be too."
Charlene Aleck of the Tsleil-Waututh Nation Sacred Trust Initiative raised the question; who will fund a project this as risky as TMX?
"As the 18th insurer to rule out Trans Mountain, Arch is confirming that fossil fuel projects without Free Prior and Informed consent are a material risk. Trans Mountain's steps to keep their insurers secret will not stop the momentum towards a safer and more just world. Trans Mountain is currently looking for more financing to continue construction, but who will fund such a risky project?"
According to the last insurance certificate with company names listed, Lloyd’s syndicates collectively were the biggest insurer for Trans Mountain. Chubb and Zurich were the biggest individual insurers listed providing coverage, but since then, both Chubb and Zurich have cut ties, making Lloyd’s a remaining top target.
By refusing to rule out Trans Mountain across its marketplace, Lloyd’s of London is failing its members and the millions of people whose lives are being destroyed by climate change. With their understanding of risk, why hasn't the industry taken action decades ago?
With Arch and Aspen cutting ties, Beazley and CNA Hardy are the prime targets for public pressure.
This could all be avoided if Lloyd’s ended insurance for fossil fuels across its marketplace.
Lloyd’s of London has increasingly been the target of protests in the UK for its connection to the pipeline in the lead up to Lloyd’s of London actual Annual General Meeting on May 19. Resistance has included 60 people from Extinction Rebellion blocking the entrances at their iconic headquarters last month and a climate memorial led by Pacific Islanders and youth strikers from climate change-affected communities.
Delayed by over a decade of powerful Indigenous-led resistance, court cases, corporate campaigning, construction mishaps, and cost overruns, TMX is on it's knees. Matt Reml, (Lakota) Mazaska Talks says:
“Thanks to the effort of frontline Indigenous communities and grassroots activists, Lloyd’s of London syndicate Arch Insurance joins a growing list of insurance companies committing to no longer providing insurance for the Trans Mountain tar sands pipeline. This is a victory for Indigenous rights, environmental and climate justice. It is time for the Trudeau administration to end the Trans Mountain pipeline."
The projected cost of the Trans Mountain expansion project has quadrupled, according to recent numbers from the Canadian Ministry of Finance. The current price tag is approximately CA$21.4 billion, and the federal government pledged that it would not provide any additional funding. This leaves the budget $8.8 billion CAD short, demonstrating overwhelming opposition and challenges to building oil and gas pipelines.
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.”
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.
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.
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."
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.
Last Friday 29th October, on the eve of COP26 climate talks, Coal Action Network, Extinction Rebellion North East and Newcastle Youth4Climate set up a climate justice memorial at Chubb Insurance (116 Quayside). The climate memorial was created to remember communities on the front lines of climate breakdown, who are being directly impacted by harmful projects and climate impacts. Members of local campaigns against coal mining - from West Cumbria, Dewley Hill and Pont Valley - also spoke at the memorial.
Jack from Newcastle Youth4Climate said "In our memorial, we remember the damage the climate crisis has caused and reflect on what the future may hold for our planet and its young people. By doing this, we are reminding the companies on our doorstep that they are directly profiting from and responsible for the loss of lives, nature and communities from the climate crisis."
Chubb Insurance is a syndicate of the Lloyd’s of London insurance market. Composed of many underwriters and insurance companies, Lloyd’s and its members are known for insuring projects that no one else will, which increasingly includes climate-destroying fossil fuel projects. Without this insurance, these projects would struggle to succeed, making insurance a major weak spot for the mining industry.
In 2020, Lloyd’s published an Environmental, Social and Governance Report. Campaigners said today that its commitments are not enough. Lloyd’s still allows members to acquire new business in these sectors, and is continuing to provide them cover until 2030. There is no mention of insurance and investment in coking coal, or other gas and oil projects, despite Lloyd’s being amongst the four largest insurers of fossil fuel projects.
Protesters were joined by activists from West Cumbria, Defend Dewley Hill and Protect Pont Valley, who spoke about their experiences of resistance to extractivist coal projects in their communities, and why financial companies like Lloyd’s need to urgently rule out insuring them. The memorial also used soundscapes from testimony previously compiled, including those of members of the Pacific Climate Warriors and of the Wangan and Jagalingou People (who are the traditional custodians of the land where Adani want to build the Carmichael coal mine), insured by Lloyd’s and Chubb.
June Davison, from the Campaign to Protect Pont Valley said: “We have seen first hand the damage that opencast coal extraction can cause, and the destruction for local communities. We have learned that the opencast site that Banks operated near our home was minute compared to mining in other parts of the world, including the Hambach Forest in Germany and the Adani mine in Australia. We know that financial institutions have supported opencast in the North East of England, and it is short sighted that Lloyd’s would insure the most devastating fossil fuel in existence.”
Members of the public laid hundreds of flowers and messages to Lloyd’s of London from over 4,500 people across the world were hung outside the offices, as well as delivered to Lloyd’s Chairman, Bruce Carnegie Brown. These messages are also viewable online at: https://lloydsclimatememorial.org/ .
This action is the latest to target Lloyd’s of London and Chubb Insurance, including a previous action that happened in May at the same location. The action today forms part of a Defund Climate Chaos day of action, with groups across the world taking similar actions on the doorsteps of a range of financial and insurance institutions. On the same day, in the morning in London, Coal Action Network facilitated a climate memorial at Lloyd’s HQ.