The fight against Bristol Airport expansion takes a new turn as campaigners unite to target airport owner the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan.
A new group, Stop OTPP Funding Airport Expansion (SOFAX), is composed of members of the National Education Union (NEU) climate network, medical activists MedAct Bristol, and airport campaigners BABE and London-based HACAN East.
Together the members of the group have launched a solidarity campaign aimed at pressuring the OTPP, which owns stakes in five European airports, to pull its investments in airport expansion.
Climate campaigner Tanguy Tomes said: ‘We know teachers in Ontario are worried about climate change. Some have even campaigned on this issue before, so SOFAX seeks to build on those efforts. The Pension Plan’s claim to be a responsible investor is completely incompatible with its commitment to expanding airports across Europe.’
Bristol teacher and NEU member Loz Hennessy said: ‘Ontario teachers are resisting budget cuts and ever-increasing workloads: many of the same issues we face in the UK today. We stand in solidarity with their struggle and see it as related to the fight against airport expansion. What are we prioritising?’
To promote the group’s campaign, SOFAX has released a video available to watch here.
In the video, Loz said: ‘As teachers, as educators we have a duty of care both to the students that we serve and to the wider community so why would our pension funds go towards further destroying the planet on which we all live?’
Campaigners are asking teachers and school workers in Europe to reach out to SOFAX to organise phone-banking events to reach Canadian schools. They say the pressure on OTPP will continue to ramp up over the coming months.
Pension provider OTPP represents 330,000 teachers in Canada and owns a multi-billion pound portfolio of investments across North America and Europe, including several European airport. They own Bristol and London City airports outright and have stakes in Birmingham, Brussels and Copenhagen airports.
The OTPP has been criticised before by anti-expansion campaigners BAAN but this is the first time the company has been directly targeted for its role in supporting the expansion of Bristol Airport.
In April this year a letter jointly written by campaigners on both sides of the Atlantic criticising the OTPP’s support for airport expansion was sent to the plan’s president and CEO Jo Taylor. Activists simultaneously glued the letter on the headquarters of the OTPP in London and Toronto.