Climate activists call on insurers to ditch climate-wrecking EACOP project

Protesters demonstrate with placards against the EACOP project, outside insurance company offices. Banner reads: Rule out insuring EACOP. Placard reads: Tokio Marine Kiln Group don't insure EACOP.
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On 30 August, climate activists staged a protest against multiple insurance companies. The coalition of campaigners from Money Rebellion, Coal Action Network, StopEACOP, Extinction Rebellion, Stop Rosebank, and Just Stop Oil demonstrated outside the offices of a series of Lloyd’s of London members. They were targeting agents that have refused to rule out insuring the controversial East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP).

The ecocidal EACOP project

The EACOP project involves a 930-mile long pipeline that will transport oil from Uganda to a port in Tanzania. French fossil fuel firm TotalEnergies, China National Offshore Oil Corporation Ltd (CNOOC), and Uganda’s state oil company are partnering on the pipeline.

As the Canary’s Tracy Keeling has documented, the pipeline could be an environmental disaster. For one thing, it poses significant risks to a range of wildlife, including African elephants and chimpanzees. Crucially, EACOP will affect nearly 2,000 square kilometers of protected areas inhabited by a profusion of unique and important species.

Moreover, communities along the pathway of the pipeline could face severe impacts. For example, Human Rights Watch has suggested that the project could displace up to 100,000 people. Accordingly, in 2022, the Parliament of the European Union passed a resolution to call on developers to halt their plans.

On top of this, human rights defenders have recorded a high number of attacks on human rights associated with the EACOP project.

Protests against insurers of environmental disaster

As such, hundreds of environmental groups have come out against the destructive pipeline project. The StopEACOP movement has mobilised multiple protests in Uganda and inspired solidarity actions from groups across the world.

In this latest demonstration, campaigners railed against a number of Lloyd’s of London insurance companies that have yet to commit to avoiding the project.

Read on...

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Activists donned masks of insurance company bosses and gave speeches. Meanwhile, others spilled oil outside the offices of the Chubb, Travelers Syndicate Management Limited, Lancashire Syndicates Limited, Chaucer Syndicates, Talbot Underwriting, Liberty Managing Agency, Hiscox Syndicates, AIG (American International Group), and Tokio Marine Kiln Syndicates.

In light of sustained pressure from activists, multiple banks and insurers have already said they will not support the pipeline. However, the Lloyd’s of London insurers that activists singled out have not publicly distanced themselves from the disastrous development .

For instance, Japan’s Tokio Marine has refused to comment on its rumoured involvement in the project. Meanwhile, despite introducing new policy that prohibits investment in protected areas, the Rainforest Action Network has pointed out that Chubb could still insure EACOP. Of course, it too has yet to rule out insuring the climate-wrecking project.

Complicity in climate crimes

The insurers that campaigners have aimed their efforts at have a history of underwriting oil and gas schemes. For example, AIG, Chubb, Talbot and Tokio Marine were among the insurers of Australia’s enormous Ichthys liquified natural gas (LNG) project between 2012 and 2017.

The offshore LNG mega-hub and associated 890-mile pipeline sit in the world’s top 1% of oil and gas projects in terms of size. One month before the COP27 climate summit, a coalition of nonprofits similarly called on insurers to rule out financing the gargantuan LNG development’s expansion.

On top of this, a May 2023 Greenpeace Nordic report identified at least 69 insurance companies that are planning to insure Norway’s new oil and gas extraction in the North Sea.. Naturally, Lloyd’s members were on the list. In fact, the report drew particular attention to the insurance society, stating that:

Lloyd’s deserves a special note. 51 of its syndicates, managed by 28 companies, are involved in 35 out of the 38 new projects.

All in all, the Greenpeace report documented nearly a full sweep of the same backers of EACOP. Notably, AIG, Chaucer, Hiscox, Lancashire, Liberty, Talbot, Tokio Marine, and Travelers adorned the insurance hall of climate infamy.

Greenpeace concluded that:

By underwriting insurance policies they are making themselves accomplices of the climate crimes committed by the oil and gas industry and ensuring disaster.

In other words, insurance companies underwriting oil and gas projects are complicit in ecocide and climate breakdown.

Drilling begins, but the fight continues

Despite consistent protests, TotalEnergies has begun drilling in a biodiverse Ugandan national park. The oil below it sits at the heart of the EACOP project.

In early August, the company started operations in Murchison Falls National Park, in the Lake Albert region. There, EACOP joint venture companies have discovered oil fields containing approximately 1.7bn barrels of recoverable oil. These sit on the border between Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Due to the large deposits of oil, the companies are developing the EACOP project to deliver crude to Tanzania for international export. Critically, the wildlife reserve is home to 76 mammal species and 451 different species of bird.

Meanwhile, local Ugandan authorities have continued to repress protest to the project. In June, Kampala police arrested four StopEACOP activists.

Activists are therefore right to turn up the heat on these reckless climate and ecologically destructive profiteers before they set planet Earth ablaze – any more than it already is.

Feature image via Money Rebellion, Coal Action Network, StopEACOP, Extinction Rebellion, Stop Rosebank, and Just Stop Oil campaign coalition. 

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