In the wake of Aspen joining sixteen companies that have ruled out Trans Mountain, groups urge insurer AIG to follow suit
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Indigenous, climate, and consumer advocacy groups today called on insurance giant American International Group Inc. (AIG) to explicitly rule out insurance coverage for the Trans Mountain pipeline and adopt a policy to ensure that its clients respect Indigenous rights.
In the letter to AIG’s Chief Executive Officer, signed by 44 organizations, including Public Citizen, Rainforest Action Network, Sierra Club, and Stand.earth, the groups say that the climate commitments that AIG adopted in March to restrict coverage for the tar sands sector do not match the urgency of the climate crisis.
“To ensure a livable planet, insurers must end all underwriting and investment support for fossil fuel expansion,” the groups write in the letter. “This includes the Trans Mountain tar sands oil expansion project and other tar sands transport projects… We call on you to explicitly rule out support for all new tar sands transport projects, including the Trans Mountain pipeline network, and adopt a policy to ensure that clients respect the Free, Prior, and Informed Consent (FPIC) of impacted communities.”
Last week, Lloyd’s of London syndicate Aspen Insurance joined sixteen insurers who pledged to rule out coverage for the Trans Mountain expansion project. The expansion project would increase climate pollution equivalent to adding 2.2 million cars to the road. Its construction has been delayed in the face of resistance from Indigenous communities who do not consent to the pipeline’s construction through their lands.
“AIG’s commitment to rule out insurance for some tar sands projects does not go nearly far enough, unless they explicitly rule out Trans Mountain,” said Charlene Aleck, spokesperson for the Tsleil-Waututh Nation Sacred Trust Initiative. “The Trans Mountain pipeline violates our Indigenous rights and threatens the land, water, and climate. A growing number of insurers are backing away from the massive risks related to the fossil fuel sector. In 2021, the climate crisis hit Trans Mountain hard, when record setting floods and forest fires forced Trans Mountain to shut down. AIG must wake up to the significant financial, reputational, and environmental risks of the highly polluting tar sands sector and explicitly rule out insurance for all new tar sands transport projects.”
AIG recently committed to restricting support for coal, tar sands, and Arctic energy. However, the insurer has yet to clarify whether its policies apply to tar sands transport projects such as Trans Mountain. Further, AIG made no commitments to end support for oil and gas expansion or protect human rights.
“While AIG’s new climate commitments are a step forward, the company’s failure to clearly rule out support for new tar sands transport projects like Trans Mountain is unacceptable,” said Hannah Saggau, insurance campaigner with Public Citizen. “The recent pledge from Aspen insurance shows that this project has major material risks that no insurer should be involved with. Trans Mountain violates Indigenous rights, its costs are ballooning, and it would unleash disastrous levels of climate pollution.”
The estimated cost of twinning the existing pipeline has soared from approximately USD $10 billion to $17 billion, and the Canadian government, which owns the project, has pledged not to give any more money to the pipeline.
“The fact that seventeen insurers have now ruled out Trans Mountain should alarm any financial institution considering supporting this project,” said Sven Biggs, Canadian Oil and Gas Program Director for Stand.earth. “This pipeline is a risk to the climate, a risk for the communities it runs through, and too great a risk for investors and insurers.”