Climate activists demand insurers Chubb and AIG rule out underwriting fossil fuel projects in Africa
November 10, 2023 by Extinction Rebellion
Underwriting fossil fuel projects in Africa is a risky business that threatens the rainforest, human rights and insurers’ reputations, climate activists warn AIG and Chubb
A coalition of activists took a “RISKOMETER” to the doors of Chubb and AIG Insurers today (10th November) to demonstrate the hazards of insuring oil and gas projects in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) jeopardising company reputations, people and the planet.
Announcing their arrival with drums and smoke flares, protesters came from Extinction Rebellion, Money Rebellion, Stop Eacop UK and Tipping Point UK to demand insurers take their hands off Africa.
The sale of 30 oil and gas blocks in the Democratic Republic of Congo is a threat to human rights, biodiversity and is a “climate bomb” being set to explode in the heart of the world’s most important carbon sink. Insurers underwriting fossil fuel projects in these blocks, and the East Africa Crude Oil Pipeline through which oil would flow from DRC, would be knowingly complicit in the destruction of life on Earth.
As the recent Greenpeace Africa Report, entitled “Blood Oil”, warns: “All insurance and reinsurance companies should consider the risks that this auction poses to human rights, nature and biodiversity, and climate, as well as the political and security concerns … The sector must fully align with the Paris Agreement and basic human rights standards and make its policies public and explicit about this.”
Pascal Mirindi, Extinction Rebellion Goma University, DRC, said: “Financing the exploitation of Congolese oil and gas resources is like financing an armed rebellion, because gas exploitation not only endangers the ecosystem but also mortgages the future of generations to come. The oil blocks are located in protected areas such as the Virunga and Upemba National Parks, two jewels of ecological stability.”
Virunga is a globally important biodiversity hotspot, the first national park in Africa, created in 1925. It is the only protected area in the world that is home to three species of great ape, our closest human relatives: Endangered Mountain Gorillas; the critically endangered Grauer’s Gorillas and Chimpanzees.
She added: “If you really want to help the Congo and the Congolese people, please help us by calling on the international community to remember the millions of children who live in camps for the displaced with no certainty that tomorrow they will be able to go to school and not come to finance mafia projects such as the exploitation of protected areas.”
A recent investigation by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism and Reuters revealed that DRC’s oil and gas block auction “has been plagued with apparent preferential treatment and backroom deals.” Allegations of rigging have been made about a company run from a residential address in Calgary, Canada which has won the rights to extract gas from Lake Kivu; a lake known as a “killer lake” as it contains vast amounts of gases that threaten to explode into the air if improperly managed. These are murky waters for the conduct of any reputable corporation to navigate.
A long history of colonialism with the exploitation of natural resources has left the DRC as one of the financially poorest nations with continued conflict and human rights abuses. The misappropriation of wealth has created $11 billion of official Congolese debt which is matched by a ‘Dark Debt’; loans raised against future resource production, or oil backed loans. Cancelling this debt burden could enable the DRC to move towards a meaningful and just transition from fossil fuel use and millions could be lifted out of poverty.
Vanessa Nakate, Ugandan Activist said: “When African people get to choose, we choose renewables.”
Fossil fuels are uninsurable when the rights of people and nature are taken into account and a letter outlining the risks was delivered to the CEO’s of Chubb and AIG for their information. Climate change is real, the continued burning of oil, gas and coal is causing Earth’s systems to breakdown. This is creating a growing chaos with those who are the least responsible the hardest hit. Chubb and AIG must RULE OUT DR Congo oil and gas blocks.
This protest takes place on the 28th anniversary of the unjust execution of Ken Saro-wiwa and the Ogoni 9. We remember them.
“I’ll tell you this, I may be dead but my ideas will not die.”
Ken Saro-Wiwa. Writing from prison, Nigeria 1995
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