Talanx drops support for Trans Mountain pipeline, paving way for more insurers to follow
June 30, 2020
German insurer Talanx will no longer back Canada’s controversial Trans Mountain pipeline, while Munich Re also signaled it will also drop the project after unveiling a new oil sands policy earlier this year.
Unceded Coast Salish Territories (VANCOUVER, BC) — German insurer Talanx will no longer back Canada’s controversial Trans Mountain pipeline, while Munich Re also signaled it will also drop the project after unveiling a new oil sands policy earlier this year.
The Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion would run from Alberta’s oil sands, to the shores of Vancouver, BC. If this pipeline goes into operation, emissions would increase drastically — roughly the same total emissions as putting 21 million new cars on the road. This pipeline is a litmus test for insurers’ commitments to the Paris Agreement which aims to limit global warming as close to 1.5ºC as possible. Dr Kirsten Zickfeld, lead author of the IPCC’s report Global Warming of 1.5ºC, has already expressed that Trans Mountain, along with other oil industry and infrastructure expansion projects, are not compatible with this target.
“Talanx and Munich Re are joining some of the world’s largest financial institutions in steering clear of the oil sands sector, ” said Sven Biggs, Canadian Oil and Gas Programs Director at Stand.earth. This is not the time to be insuring, or even trying to build, a pipeline like this that threatens our climate, the health and wellbeing of communities from Edmonton to Vancouver, and with each passing day makes less and less economic sense.”
In correspondence with Stand.earth, the companies made it clear that going forward, they would no longer do business with the oil sands sector.
“As a matter of principle, Talanx no longer invests in companies that derive more than 25% of their revenue or generate more than 25% of their power from coal. In addition, oil sands have been added to the list of exclusion criteria for both investments and underwriting.”
“Munich Re has a policy on oils sands in place, covering both investments and insurance. We no longer insure the extraction of oil sands or related dedicated infrastructure on a single risk basis. And we do not invest in companies that generate >10% of their revenue from oil sands extraction.”
For more than a decade, the expansion of Trans Mountain has been delayed in the face of powerful, Indigenous-led resistance on the ground and in the courts. It has not secured the Free, Prior, and Informed Consent of Indigenous communities that are directly in the pipeline’s route. Right now, the Tsleil-Waututh Nation, Squamish Nation and Coldwater Indian Band are actively engaged in legal challenges on the project, and land defenders are asserting their rights and title along the route.
“The companies insuring Trans Mountain are complicit in Indigenous rights violations, ” said Kukpi7 Judy Wilson, Secretary-Treasurer of the Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs and Chief of the Neskonlith Indian Band. “Trans Mountain put in the existing line without the consent of impacted First Nations and we have said no countless times to the proposed expansion. As Indigenous peoples we are stewards of our lands and waters. We have jurisdiction over activities that happen in our territories, and we don’t want them ruined by oil spills.”
The existing Trans Mountain pipeline is already a major environmental and public health hazard with a long history of disastrous spills. Just last week, 50,000 gallons of crude oil spilled from a pump station located above an aquifer that supplies the Sumas First Nation with drinking water. The Trans Mountain Expansion Project would multiply these risks tremendously.
“With their new tar sands policies, Talanx and Munich Re recognize the major threats that Trans Mountain and the entire oil sands sector pose to Indigenous land rights, sacred waterways, and a safe climate future,” said Elana Sulakshana, Energy Finance Campaigner at Rainforest Action Network.
Ziona Eyob, Canadian Communications Manager, 604-757-7279
Sven Biggs, Canadian Oil and Gas Programs Director at Stand.earth, 778-882-8354
Kukpi7 Judy Wilson, Secretary-Treasurer of the Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs and Chief of the Neskonlith Indian Band, 1-250-320-7738
Elana Sulakshana, Energy Finance Campaigner at Rainforest Action Network, 703-589-0040