New case study: Coastal GasLink pipeline at a glance

March 24, 2022

US Pensions and their role in financing nearly $350 million in companies behind dangerous project blatantly ignoring Indigenous rights.

(TURTLE ISLAND LANDS / SO-CALLED UNITED STATES, UNCEDED ANCESTRAL HOMELANDS OF THOUSANDS OF INDIGENOUS TRIBES) — Today, and the Climate Safe Pensions network released a comprehensive case study revealing just 11 U.S. pension and permanent funds have nearly $350 million invested in TC Energy and TransCanada, the corporations behind the Coastal GasLink pipeline.

The full Pensions case study can be found here.

The full RBC case study can be found here.

Reconciliation isn’t financing a project that’s destroying our land, without our consent. Coastal GasLink has not engaged in respectful consultation with us. Backing this project implicates investors in perpetuating violence to our land and on my people,” says Molly Wickham, Gidimt’en, Wet’suwet’en Nation, Hereditary name Sleydo’. “If investors are serious about their commitments to social responsibility and racial justice, they must commit to not financing projects that threaten Wet’suwet’en sovereignty, violate our land and sacrifice our future. Otherwise, when companies talk of reconciliation, it’s just empty promises — and we’ve had more than enough of those already.”

Wet’suwet’en land defenders have been fighting to stop this pipeline on their land for almost a decade. Just last week, over 65 Hollywood celebrities, including Mark Ruffalo, Leonardo DiCaprio, Taika Waititi, Scarlett Johansson, Jane Fonda, Susan Sarandon, and Robert Downey Jr., released a letter to City National Bank’s (CNB) parent company, Royal Bank of Canada (RBC), demanding the immediate withdrawal of financial support for Coastal GasLink, a 416-mile (670-kilometer) gas pipeline slated to cut through sacred and sensitive ecosystems in Wet’suwet’en land, in British Columbia, Canada without consent from hereditary chiefs.

Today’s case study follows a December 2021 comprehensive report revealing that the same 14 US pension and permanent funds finance fossil fuels to the tune of $81.6 billion, bankrolling an outsized proportion of the coal, oil, and gas industry.

“By bankrolling Coastal GasLink, RBC is complicit in Indigenous rights violations and climate chaos,” said Sarah Beuhler, Senior Climate Finance Campaigner. “But RBC isn’t doing this alone — just 11 U.S. pensions invest over $350 million in the companies behind this toxic pipeline. Ahead of banks’ shareholder meetings this spring, pensions and banks must end fossil fuel finance once and for all.”

Since the launch of the fossil fuel divestment movement, a decade of data shows early adopters of divestment strategies report neutral or positive financial results. From increasing stranded risk to the cost of capital for fossil fuel projects doubling, material risks for fossil fuel corporations are proven long-term and structural.

To date, over 1500 institutions representing more than $40 trillion in assets have committed to some level of divestment. Pensions makeup 11.8% of commitments, including notable divestment actions from Baltimore, Maryland, New York City and State, and the state of Maine. Most recently San Diego announced its intention to divest its $2.3 billion municipal portfolio from fossil fuels.