California insurance commissioner Ricardo Lara recently rejected a petition from over 60 public interest groups to have insurance companies operating in the state to disclose their fossil fuel business.
The petition in question requests that insurers reveal all their investments in “fossil fuel-related entities.” It also asks for details if the insurers invested in polluting companies, or if the insurers underwrote or insured any projects that are decidedly not environmental.
In his decision statement, Lara explained he turned down the petition because it “only targets a single element of the much broader challenge of climate risk”. He added that he is pursuing a more comprehensive climate strategy – one that includes incentivizing climate-smart investments.
Lara also invited the petitioners, consumers, and the insurance industry to work with him in creating this comprehensive strategy.
Consumer Watchdog responded to the rejection, saying that rejecting the proposal allows insurers to keep their involvement in global warming secret. The consumer advocate group also said Lara’s denial is a step back from the previous Department of Insurance’s work.
“Every new scientific study finds the climate threat is more urgent than the last. In denying this petition, Lara denies that urgency in favor of more talk with the industry,” the group said in a statement.
The Actuary reported that the petition would have applied to 1,300 insurers. At present, the California Department of Insurance requires the disclosure of fossil fuel-related investments by companies that write over $100 million in premiums.