Climate activists protest Liberty Mutual's work with fossil fuel industry

Climate activists protest Liberty Mutual's work with fossil fuel industry | Insurance Business

Climate activists protest Liberty Mutual

Environmental groups staged a protest Tuesday at Liberty Mutual’s Boston headquarters to highlight the insurer’s business with the fossil fuel industry.

Rainforest Action Network (RAN), Insure Our Future, and Mothers Out Front used the protest to formally launch a campaign to demand that Liberty Mutual, a fossil fuel insurer, “take responsibility for its role fuelling the climate crisis,” RAN said in a news release.

The campaign launched on the two-year anniversary of the Tubbs fire, the most destructive wildfire in California at the time.

“Within two weeks of the Tubbs fire, Liberty Mutual sent us a notice that informed us that our homeowners’ insurance would be cancelled as we were deemed to be residing in an area at high risk from wildfire,” said Cloverdale, CA resident Melinda Shaw. “Liberty Mutual is abandoning its long-time clients after ever-increasing climate-related disasters, leaving them vulnerable, while simultaneously insuring companies in the fossil fuel industry that drive these crises. This company’s hypocrisy is shocking.”

Liberty Mutual is a top global insurer of coal, oil and gas, and invests more than $6.6 billion in fossil fuel companies, including $1.5 billion in thermal coal.

“We are here today because Liberty Mutual has refused more than 15 requests since July 2018 to discuss its support for the fossil fuel industry,” said Elana Sulakshana, energy finance campaigner at RAN. “We will continue to spotlight the company’s role in driving climate change until Liberty Mutual takes bold action in the face of the growing climate emergency. Without insurance, no new fossil fuel projects can be built, and existing ones must be phased out, which is the pathway we urgently need to be on to keep global temperature rise below 1.5 degrees Celsius.”

The Insure Our Future campaign is demanding that Liberty Mutual immediately stop underwriting coal and tar sands companies and projects. The campaign is also pressing the insurer to divest from coal and tar sands companies and align its business activities with limiting climate change.

The protest against Liberty Mutual follows a string of victories by a global coalition of which RAN and Insure Our Future are a part. Two Australian and 13 European companies have adopted policies restricting coal insurance, and four of those companies have also restricted tar sands insurance. In July, Chubb became the first insurer to implement a policy restricting coal insurance and investments. The rest of the US insurance industry continues to lag behind, RAN said.

“With ever-worsening wildfires, floods and storms, the US insurance industry is reeling,” said Mary Cerulli of Mothers Out Front in Boston. “In Boston, we are already seeing unprecedented coastal flooding. It makes no sense for an insurance company – especially one headquartered here – to fuel the climate crisis knowingly.”