Insurers urged to cut ties with oil and gas

Insurance companies must end all support for new oil and gas projects in order to meet international climate targets, NGOs supporting the Unfriend Coal campaign have said in a letter to CEOs today.


They also released research showing that four of the 15 biggest oil and gas insurers have publicly backed the Paris Agreement target of limiting global warming to 1.5°C, while seven have already restricted insurance for coal.

The Unfriend Coal campaign has so far focused its activities on campaigning for insurers to stop underwriting and investing in coal, but has now expanded its scope to oil and gas and rebranded as Insure Our Future.

“Insurers have a responsibility to support international climate targets and align their businesses with the Paris Agreement,” says the letter to CEOs, which is signed by 18 international NGOs.

“As governments plan the recovery from the COVID-19 crisis, insurers need to champion the transition to a sustainable, fair and resilient future as underwriters, investors and corporate citizens.”

Chubb, Liberty Mutual, The Hartford, Allianz, AXA, Munich Re and Zurich have already restricted insurance for coal, with the latter four companies also pledging to align their investment portfolios with a maximum 1.5°C of warming. 

However, Insure our Future said that AIG, Travelers and Tokio Marine have taken no action on fossil fuel insurance, and warned that governments are planning to increase oil production from 100 to 120 million barrels per day by 2040 – three times the level compatible with limiting global warming to 1.5°C.

Its letter to 27 leading property and casualty insurers, and three leading insurance investors, calls on them to:

  • Immediately cease insuring new oil or gas expansion projects
  • Commit to phasing out insurance for oil and gas companies in line with a 1.5°C pathway
  • Immediately cease insuring new coal projects and coal companies
  • Divest all assets from oil, gas and coal companies that are not in line with a 1.5°C pathway
  • Bring stewardship activities in line with a 1.5°C pathway in a transparent way, including forceful advocacy for a green and just recovery from COVID-19.

“The massive disruption of the fossil fuel industry due to COVID-19 offers an opportunity to accelerate the required low-carbon transition,” said Insure Our Future global coordinator Peter Bosshard.

“At a time when powerful governments are bailing out politically well-connected oil and gas companies, the insurance industry needs to stand up as a voice of reason and bring scientific evidence into the decision-making process about high-carbon projects.”


Image credit: iStock


Chris Seekings is a reporter for TRANSFORM

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