The Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan closed out the year by buying a controlling interest in a fossil gas pipeline company in Italy, with an OTPP official claiming the deal is a “low- or zero-carbon” investment.
Teachers’ bought a 69.4% share of Società Gasdotti Italia (SGI), described  by IPE Real Assets as a 1,700-kilometre, high-pressure pipeline network that supplies gas for cities and industry. The system serves central Italy, and is the second-largest  in the country.
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“This investment is in line with our strategy to acquire core, regulated utility assets that provide essential services and have highly predictable cash flows,” said Dale Burgess, the fund’s senior managing director for infrastructure and natural resources. “We believe SGI’s network is well-positioned to benefit from and enable the shift to low- or zero-carbon alternatives like green hydrogen and biomethane to support broad decarbonization efforts in Italy and Europe.”
Toronto-based Shift:Action had a decidedly different take on the announcement.
“OTPP’s press release cites an incomplete, unpublished feasibility study relying on unproven assertions that gas pipeline networks can somehow be switched to hydrogen and decarbonized,” the organization said in a release yesterday. “In fact, numerous technical studies show that only a small percentage of hydrogen could ever safely be blended into existing gas pipelines, making gas pipeline networks ultimately dead-end investments as we transition entirely away from fossil fuels to stabilize our climate.”
More broadly, “attempts to portray investments in gas infrastructure as a climate solution are a new and deceptive form of climate denial,” Shift added. “Instead of listening to teachers and immediately excluding new investments in fossil fuels and phasing out current investments, OTPP is doubling down on climate-heating gas while making unjustified claims that it’s part of a decarbonization strategy.”
OTPP couldn’t be reached for comment as The Energy Mix went to virtual press.