On 20th of November 2023 members of Coal Action Network, StopEACOP UK and Extinction Rebellion held a protest against Sinosure – a Chinese-state owned insurance company with ties to the East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP). The global day of action saw protests in London alongside those in Tanzania, Uganda, South Africa and Washington DC.
If built, EACOP, majority-owned by French oil company Total, would be the longest heated oil pipeline in the world. However, it has so far been blocked from construction. The project has faced difficulties raising finance and getting insurance after sustained campaigning efforts resulted in numerous banks and insurers committing to rule it out. This is why the Ugandan government has, in an act of desperation, now turned to Chinese institutions to prop it up.
Today’s global actions focused specifically on the state-owned China Export & Credit Insurance Corporation (Sinosure), the Export-Import Bank of China (China Exim), and the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC). Sinosure is said to be in advanced talks with the Ugandan government about providing credit for the project.
In London, protesters dressed in iconic Total red boiler suits and held banners saying “Solidarity with East Africa” and “Sinosure drop EACOP”. The group protested for an hour and handed in a petition signed by thousands of directly impacted citizens opposed to the planned 1443 km pipeline. They were met with two police vans and eight police officers blocking the main door to the Sinosure building at 85 Gresham Street, London. This made for a ratio of two or more police officers per protester. Meanwhile, in Uganda seven activists were arrested for holding an anti-EACOP banner.
Clearly, banks and insurers are afraid of people-power, and are trying to push carbon bomb projects through at the cost of human freedom and natural ecosystems.
However, activists see a golden opportunity to delay and ultimately stop EACOP. According to recent reports, 100km of the pipeline has been produced by Chinese manufacturers and is being shipped to Tanzania, while wells are being drilled in Kingfisher and Tillenga oil fields in Uganda. But, EACOP cannot get its crucial funding without Sinosure’s support, who are expected to make a decision by April 2024 after repeated delays.
The powerful work of campaigners and frontline communities has stopped EACOP in its tracks time and again. As we approach the New Year, the movement is ready to end this project for good and amplify the African voices calling for green jobs and a safe future.
On 18th October dozens of protesters staged a sit-in occupation of the plush City of London offices of ten Lloyd's of London insurers demanding they rule out insuring the proposed West Cumbria coal mine and East Africa Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP).
In collaboration with Fossil Free London’s “Oil Money Out” and standing in solidarity with South African activists in Johannesburg, protesters gathered first at Standard Bank then marched waving banners saying “Don't Insure EACOP' and “Don't Insure West Cumbria Mine” to three high profile buildings including the “Walkie Talkie”.
In a simultaneous action others entered the office foyers of Talbot, Chaucer, Ascot, Markel, Allied World, CNA Hardy, Tokio Marine Kiln, and Sirius International and Lancashire Syndicates and refused to leave.
Community members from Cumbria and Uganda joined the protest, sharing the united call to insurers and banks to stop underwriting deadly fossil fuel projects. The West Cumbria Mine will break the UK government’s legally-binding net zero emissions target and the massive 1443 km East Africa Crude Oil Pipeline will wreak havoc on communities, jeopardise ecosystems and water supplies and eliminate the possibility of Earth remaining habitable. There can be no new fossil fuels anywhere if global heating is to remain under 1.5C. Neither project will be able to go ahead without financial backing.
The protesters were joined by Patience Nabukalu, a youth activist from Fridays for Future Uganda who said:
“We have gathered here today to demand that insurers cut ties with the EACOP. By supporting this deadly fossil fuel project they undermine any climate commitments they have made. People in Uganda are facing human rights violations in the name of this project. This has to end.”
Insurers from Lloyd’s of London have come under increasing pressure to rule out offering insurance to both the West Cumbria coal mine and EACOP, facing protests at offices across the UK with hundreds of students entering the job market refusing to work for them.
Claude Fourcroy, a spokesperson for Money Rebellion said: “We are calling on all the banks and insurers behind the West Cumbria mine and East Africa Crude Oil Pipelines to cut their ties now. Both of these projects will fuel climate breakdown. Lloyd’s of London and the insurers in its market sit at the centre of a web of climate wreckers in the City of London, alongside Barclays and HSBC.”
The occupations came on the second day of the Fossil Free London “Oily Money Out” protests targeting the Energy Intelligence Forum where fossil fuel corporations talk to government. This Forum occurs in the run up to the COP28 Climate Conference where President Sultan Al Jaber CEO of ADNOC (Abu Dhabi National Oil Company), has been captured by fossil fuel corporations.
There must be no more coal, no more gas and we must stop the flow of oil. Join our campaign to stop insuring the climate crisis.