AXA’s commitment comes after NGO members of the #StopEACOP Alliance sent letters to five brokers and six re/insurers asking them to publicly commit to steer clear of the oil pipeline project (1). Several weeks ago, TOTAL East Africa Midstream B.V., a subsidiary of French oil giant TotalEnergies, published a tender for re/insurance brokerage services for the East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP).
Lucie Pinson, Founder and Director at Reclaim Finance, said: “We warmly welcome this decision, which comes as a fresh blow for TotalEnergies and its polluting oil pipeline project. If the oil and gas major needed new evidence that the EACOP project is toxic, this is it: none of the top French financial institutions want to put a stamp on it. It’s also particularly encouraging that AXA says the project is not aligned with their climate commitment. We hope that EACOP is only the first of a long list of new oil and gas projects that AXA says no to. That would mean they take their net zero pledge seriously and are committed to go beyond climate rhetoric to truly align their oil and gas policy with the Paris climate agreement.”
The top three French banks BNP Paribas, Crédit Agricole and Société Générale, along with Barclays, Credit Suisse, UniCredit and ANZ have now committed not to finance the EACOP project (2). The construction of the pipeline, which would stretch 1,445 kilometres from Uganda to Tanzania, is essential for the exploitation of newly discovered oil reserves in the Great Lakes region. In addition to accelerating the climate crisis, the project threatens many protected environments, forests, wetlands and mangroves, as well as the livelihoods of local communities. Over 100,000 people across Uganda and Tanzania will lose the land they rely on for farming and animal raising, and many will be forcibly removed from their homes. Communities along the pipeline route are already suffering from restricted access to their land to grow crops. (3)
Prince Papa, Africa programmes Coordinator at the Global Catholic Climate Movement said: “This welcome signal from the giant insurer means that TotalEnergies could have difficulties insuring this extremely risky and damaging project. No responsible insurer should support the building of a massive crude oil pipeline in the midst of a climate crisis, particularly one with impacts of this magnitude on nature and human rights. It’s high time for insurers that are committed to climate action to take these concerns seriously and withdraw their support.”
AXA is the chair of the net zero insurance alliance which brings together insurers committed to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050. The recent International Energy Agency net zero scenario (4), as well as recent statements made by António Guterres, Secretary General of the United Nations at the Insurance Development Forum Summit (5), make clear the urgent need for the global insurance industry to end underwriting of new fossil fuel projects. EACOP is irreconcilable with the net zero target, and with the goals of the Paris Agreement.
David Pred, Executive Director of Inclusive Development International, said: “We applaud AXA for demonstrating climate leadership. At the same time we appeal to Allianz, SCOR, Munich Re, Swiss Re, and Zurich to follow AXA’s lead and do the right thing. As members of the Net-Zero Insurance Alliance and purported climate leaders, these companies have no excuse for staying silent. It is time for each of them to publicly commit that they will not support EACOP or its associated oil extraction projects, and instead support the transition to an inclusive, sustainable and decarbonized economy.”