“The shift away from coal is just one part of the low-carbon transition that the world needs to undertake.”
That was the assertion made by the non-government organizations supporting the Insure Our Future campaign, which is shedding its Unfriend Coal identity as the advocacy group widens the scope of its activities beyond one particular fossil fuel. In a letter to the world’s top oil & gas insurers, the alliance put forward its recommendations aimed at creating a more sustainable and resilient future.
The proposed measures include immediately ceasing insuring new oil & gas expansion projects, as well as new coal projects and companies unless they are engaged in a rapid transition process towards clean energy of no more than two years; committing to phasing out insurance for oil & gas firms in line with a 1.5ºC pathway under the Paris Agreement; and divesting all assets – even those managed for third parties – from coal and oil & gas companies that are not in line with the pathway.
“Three years ago, the organizations of the Unfriend Coal campaign first called on the insurance industry to stop insuring coal, the biggest single source of CO2 (carbon dioxide) emissions,” wrote the signatories in the four-page letter seen by Insurance Business.
“Since then 19 leading insurance companies have ended or limited their cover for coal projects and companies, and twice as many have divested from the coal industry. The carriers with coal restrictions on their underwriting accounted for 13.6% of direct non-life insurance premiums and 47.6% of non-life reinsurance premiums in 2018.”
Insure Our Future described the insurance industry’s move away from coal as “encouraging,” while making the lobby group’s wider fossil fuels plea to the chief executives of Asia-Pacific’s MS&AD, Ping An, QBE, Samsung Fire & Marine, Sinosure, Sompo, and Tokio Marine; Europe-based Allianz, Aviva, AXA, Generali, Hannover Re, HDI Global, Legal & General, Lloyd’s of London, MAPFRE, Munich Re, SCOR, Swiss Re, and Zurich; and AIG, AXIS Capital, Berkshire Hathaway, Chubb, The Hartford, Liberty Mutual, MetLife, Travelers, TIAA, and W.R. Berkley in the US.
The letter was signed by representatives from 350.org, ClientEarth, Connecticut Citizen Action Group, Foundation Development YES – Open-Pit Mines NO (Poland), Earthworks (US), Greenpeace, Indigenous Environmental Network, Instituto Internacional de Derecho y Medio Ambiente (Spain), Japan Centre for a Sustainable Environment and Society, Market Forces (Australia), Oil Change International, Rainforest Action Network (US), Reclaim Finance (France), Re:Common (Italy), Sierra Club (US), Solutions For Our Climate (Korea), Stand.Earth (Canada), The Sunrise Project (Australia), and Urgewald (Germany).
They stressed that insurers have a responsibility to back international climate targets and align their businesses with the Paris Agreement. The advocacy group is seeking a response, which will form the basis of Insure Our Future’s annual fossil fuel insurance scorecard report.
“The massive disruption of the fossil fuel industry due to COVID-19 offers an opportunity to accelerate the required low-carbon transition,” said the campaign’s global coordinator, Peter Bosshard of The Sunrise Project.
“At a time when powerful governments are bailing out politically well-connected oil & 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.”