Mon­treal in sol­i­dar­ity with in­ter­na­tional ef­fort against TAP

Mon­treal ac­tivists con­demn CDPQ’S af­fil­i­a­tion with Fluxys, and its role in sup­port­ing the Trans Adri­atic Pipe­line

The McGill Daily - - Contents - Ca­pucine Zurcher & Rayleigh Lee

On Novem­ber 15, ac­tivist groups in Mon­treal con­vened in front of Caisse de Dépot et de Place­ment du Québec’s (CDPQ) head­quar­ters to rally against in­vest­ments in pipe­line projects. CDPQ is a crown cor­po­ra­tion that man­ages pub­lic pen­sion plans and in­sur­ance pro­grams in Que­bec. Groups such as Stand up with Stand­ing Rock held signs that read “CDPQ no tap” urg­ing them to di­vest from the Trans-adri­atic Pipe­line (TAP), con­nect­ing the gas fields of Azer­bai­jan to the Euro­pean mar­ket through Tur­key, Greece, Mace­do­nia, Al­ba­nia and Italy. The TAP is cur­rently in con­struc­tion, and sched­uled to be im­ple­mented in 2020, and would pump up to 10 bil­lion cu­bic me­ters of gas across Europe.

“I took part of a col­lec­tive ac­tion along peo­ple in Europe and in Canada in or­der to push finance ac­tors to di­vest from Trans-adri­atic Pipe­line. Our ac­tion in Mon­treal has lighted up Caisse de Dépot et de Place­ment du Québec’s in­vest­ment,” said Guil­laume Durin, a mem­ber of the Stand Up with Stand­ing Rock.

The Trans Adri­atic Pipe­line

The event was or­ga­nized to con­demn CDPQ’S af­fil­i­a­tion with Fluxys, a Bel­gian based nat­u­ral gas in­fras­truc­ture com­pany which owns 16 per cent of shares in the TAP. Ac­cord­ing to a pe­ti­tion by Cli­mate Jus­tice Mon­treal, CDPQ has in­vested 16.2 bil­lion in oil and gas last year. More­over, 16.4 per cent of the CDPQ’S pub­lic eq­uity hold­ings were in car­bon-in­ten­sive en­ergy and ma­te­ri­als sec­tors. This has prompted crit­i­cism against CDPQ, such as the pe­ti­tion “Get off my Caisse”, urg­ing CDPQ to ob­tain in­formed con­sent on any re­source ex­trac­tion project tak­ing place on Indigenous ter­ri­to­ries. This Septem­ber, a protest was or­ga­nized by var­i­ous grass­roots to speak out against CDPQ’S in­vest­ment prac­tices.

While TAP is a project based over­seas, CDPQ signed an agree­ment in 2011, al­low­ing the CDPQ to ac­quire a stake in Fluxys, with a cap­i­tal in­crease of up to € 150 mil­lion. The same year, CDPQ in­creased their in­vest­ments with an ad­di­tional € 210 mil­lion, rais­ing its stake from 10 per cent to 20 per cent.

“The [CDPQ] owns shares of the com­pany Fluxys who is one of the main de­vel­op­ers of [the] TAP,” said Ni­co­las Che­va­lier, the Co-founder of Leap Mon­treal. “This project di­rectly puts the lo­cal en­vi­ron­ment [at risk] but will have a global im­pact as well. In a con­text of global [...] warm­ing and where an ef­fort has to be made from the bank to in­vest in re­new­able [...] en­ergy, TAP does not have its place.”

Ear­lier this year, the CDPQ an­nounced a “de­car­bon­ated” pol­icy, a man­date to in­crease in­vest­ments in low-car­bon as­sets by more than $8 bil­lion, and com­mit to cut­ting its car­bon foot­print by 25 per cent per dol­lar in­vested. How­ever, ac­cord­ing to Durin, CDPQ still owns 19 per cent of Fluxys, which makes CDPQ com­plicit in a “cli­mati­cide project.”

In­ter­na­tional sol­i­dar­ity

The event held on Novem­ber 15 was part of an in­ter­na­tional ef­fort to pres­sure financial groups own­ing TAP shares to di­vest. The Paris agree­ment signed in April 2016 com­mits coun­tries to en­sur­ing that the global av­er­age tem­per­a­ture does not in­crease by more than 2°C above prein­dus­trial lev­els.

“TAP is not a lo­cal is­sue. It is not even a Euro­pean is­sue any­more,” ex­plained Che­va­lier. Given that ex­ist­ing fos­sil fuel op­er­a­tions al­ready ex­ceed the car­bon bud­get, NGOS like 350.org pub­lished an open let­ter, ar­gu­ing that the TAP would sab­o­tage the Euro­pean cli­mate tar­gets agreed upon dur­ing the Paris agree­ment. How­ever, the TAP be­gan its con­struc­tion in Al­ba­nia in July 2015.

On Oc­to­ber 23 2017, 15,000 sci­en­tists from 184 coun­tries en­dorsed a global warn­ing re­gard­ing the ur­gency of the cli­mate cri­sis and its im­mi­nent ef­fects. The let­ter ad­dressed to the pres­i­dent of the Euro­pean In­vest­ment Bank and the Euro­pean Bank for Re­con­struc­tion and De­vel­op­ment, calls on the Euro­pean Union to im­me­di­ately with­draw its sup­port for the TAP, stress­ing that the ‘TAP would lock Europe into fos­sil fu­els for decades’. On Novem­ber 14, the Euro­pean In­vest­ment Bank ap­proved a 9.2 bil­lion bud­get fi­nanc­ing cli­mate ac­tion projects in 16 coun­tries.

Che­va­lier hopes to ex­tend these ef­forts to Mon­treal, de­mand­ing that ac­tors such as the CDPQ do not par­tic­i­pate in the fi­nanc­ing of the TAP. “Ac­tivists in Canada have joined the wave of protest against the mega gas pipe­line,” said Che­va­lier.

“With cit­i­zens’ ac­tion and com­mit­ment, cli­mate jus­tice can be achieved. Dis­in­vest­ing is one of the key el­e­ments to go for­ward with this goal,” said Is­abelle L’héri­tier, a mem­ber of L’eau de la Terre c’est sacre. L’héri­tier em­pha­sized Mon­treal’s sup­port for mo­bi­liz­ing against the TAP, with ac­tivist groups such as the Coali­tion for Cli­mate Jus­tice Mon­treal and Leap Mon­treal.

“The [CDPQ] owns shares of the com­pany Fluxys who is one of the main de­vel­op­ers of [the] TAP. This project di­rectly puts lo­cal en­vi­ron­ment [at risk] but will have a global im­pact as well.” —Ni­co­las Che­va­lier, Co-founder of Leap Mon­treal “TAP is not a lo­cal is­sue. It is not even a Euro­pean is­sue any­more. [...] Ac­tivists in Canada have joined the wave of protest against the mega gas pipe­line.” —Ni­co­las Che­va­lier, Co-founder of Leap Mon­treal

Théo Sherer | Pho­tog­ra­pher

Ac­tivists protest­ing the Trans Adri­atic Pipe­line.

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