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Trans Mountain pipeline insurance receives attention

Published by
World Pipelines,

A global coalition of 32 environmental, Indigenous, and citizen groups is calling on the companies listed on the insurance certificate for the existing Trans Mountain pipeline to drop their policies ahead of the 31 August renewal deadline. Citing political and environmental risks from the expansion project of the oilsands pipeline from Alberta to British Columbia, the letter also asks the companies, as well as companies considering insuring the pipeline expansion, to not insure any future oilsands projects.

The Canadian federal government, which purchased the existing pipeline and the expansion from Kinder Morgan after the company struggled to finance the expansion, is in the process of renewing its liability insurance for the existing pipeline, and will be required to provide additional insurance for the pipeline expansion six months before it goes into operation. If the insurance industry does not provide coverage, Canada will need to self-insure the expansion, putting taxpayers in charge of the additional CAN$1.1 billion.

Only 12 companies out of 27 responded to the letter. Generali said it is not currently insuring the project and pledged not to be involved in the future. Swiss Re referenced its existing policies on oilsands, environmental protection, and human rights, and Munich Re said it is working on a general policy for the oil sands industry. Swiss Re and Munich Re did not comment specifically on the Trans Mountain pipeline.

Zurich, the largest insurance company in Switzerland, recently announced a policy to restrict insurance for, and divest from, the oilsands industry. The company, which is listed on the certificate as the primary liability insurer, said it would continue to insure the existing Trans Mountain pipeline while having discussions with the Canadian government on whether the existing pipeline would allow Canada to meet its climate commitments under the Paris Agreement. Zurich did not comment specifically on the expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline.

According to the Carnegie Oil-Climate Index, Canadian oilsands are one of the highest-carbon sources of oil on the planet. The letter details the growing political and Indigenous opposition to the Trans Mountain Pipeline in the US and explains how the pipeline expansion would contribute to the growth of the oilsands industry.

Letter signatories

The 32 environmental, Indigenous, and citizen groups that signed the letter are: Canada, Japan, Burnaby Residents Opposing Kinder Morgan, Bold Alliance, Communities for a Better Environment, Consumer Watchdog, Friends of the Earth Canada, Friends of the Earth US, Friends of the San Juans, Fundacja RT-ON, Georgia Strait Alliance, Greenpeace Canada, Greenpeace International, Greenpeace Netherlands, Greenpeace Switzerland, Greenpeace USA, Japan Center for a Sustainable Environment and Society, the Lands Council, Les Amis de la Terre France, Leadnow, Living Oceans Society, Natural Resources Defense Council, Oil Change International, Oregon Physicians for Social Responsibility, Public Citizen, Sierra Club,, Union of BC Indian Chiefs, Urgewald, Waterkeeper Alliance, West Coast Environmental Law, and the Wilderness Committee.

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