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Extinction Rebellion target Canadian pension fund in London City Airport expansion plan protest

PUBLISHED: 12:00 12 February 2020

Extinction Rebellion activists target Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan office in Marylebone. Picture: Pete Fallan/XR Newham

Extinction Rebellion activists target Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan office in Marylebone. Picture: Pete Fallan/XR Newham

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Extinction Rebellion activists have protested outside the office of a Canadian pensions firm investing in London City Airport.

XR campaigner Rupert Read speaking at the protest. Picture: Pete Fallan/XR NewhamXR campaigner Rupert Read speaking at the protest. Picture: Pete Fallan/XR Newham

Members from Newham's branch of the campaign group led the action outside the Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan (OTPP) London HQ in Marylebone on Tuesday, February 11.

Protesters dressed as landing crew in high vis jackets, red overalls, glasses and moustaches held batons showing stop symbols, signalling outside OTPP's doors. Others unfurled a banner saying "Airport expansion is ecocide".

Campaigner Rupert Read said: "Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan say their 'social license to invest' is fundamentally linked to them being a 'proactive enabler of the low-carbon future'.

"Instead, their support for three airport expansions in the UK is pushing us towards a high-carbon dystopia. OTPP must cancel the expansions and invest in a future that protects our living world."

Deputy Green party leader Amelia Womack joins the protest. Picture: Pete Fallan/XR NewhamDeputy Green party leader Amelia Womack joins the protest. Picture: Pete Fallan/XR Newham

OTPP invests in London City (LCY), Bristol and Birmingham airports as part of an infrastructure portfolio it values at $17.8billion, its website states.

XR Newham accuse the global pensions firm of funding "the planet's destruction" by investing in "toxic assets" - airport expansions which will see increased emissions of carbon dioxide and fuel the climate crisis.

All three airports plan to expand with Royal Docks based London City hoping to boost the number of permitted flights from 111,000 per year to 151,000 by 2035.

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Deputy leader of the Green Party, Amelia Womack and John Stewart from campaign group HACAN East joined the protest.

Mr Stewart said: "It is important that the owners of the airport, based thousands of miles across the Atlantic, are aware of the widespread opposition there is to the expansion proposals."

A London City spokesman said: "We recognise tackling the climate challenge is an important responsibility for everyone, including the aviation sector. This is why we are united with our partners across the industry to achieve net zero emissions by 2050.

"London City is committed to playing a leading role in this and to making a difference locally. We have already made significant strides - being accredited as carbon neutral last year.

"This is the right approach and it will ensure we can all continue to benefit from flying. One of our top priorities is to help east London flourish."

He added that London City creates thousands of good, London Living Wage jobs in life-long careers, recognised by the Mayor of London's good work standard.

"We also support the community through programmes like our community fund which gave £75,000 to good causes last year and will do the same again this year.

"But the benefits aren't only economic. Aviation contributes culturally and socially. Our shared ambition should not be to cut off east London and the UK from the rest of the world. It should be to lead the world in making aviation, and many other industries, sustainable," he said.

OTPP did not respond to a request for comment.

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