Travelers swerves fossil fuel insurance block

Shareholders oppose new fossil insurance ban, vote yes to greenhouse gas report

Travelers swerves fossil fuel insurance block


By Jen Frost

Travelers shareholders voted in support of the carrier continuing to underwrite new fossil fuel projects at its annual meeting in Connecticut last Wednesday, SEC filings have revealed.

Shareholders said no to a proposal by Green Century Capital Management to prevent the carrier from covering new fossil fuel projects.

Disregarding abstentions, around 13.2% of non-binding votes were in favor of ending new fossil fuel insurance at Travelers.

Travelers is the third and final insurer to have faced such a vote this year, with Chubb and The Hartford investors having already shied away from giving the green light to similar proposals.

Just 8.8% of The Hartford shareholders voted for a similar motion at the insurance business’ shareholder meeting this month, while 19.4% supported it at Chubb’s AGM.

All three carriers’ boards had advised investors to vote no.

While the fossil fuels proposal was given the boot by most Travelers shareholders, investors did vote for greater transparency and reporting on Paris Agreement targets and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions strategy.

The GHG proposal, mooted by As You Sow, secured around 55.8% of votes cast.

72.2% of Chubb votes were in favour of As You Sow’s GHG proposal at its AGM, with the insurer having since pledged it would consider what additional reporting might be “appropriate”.

The Travelers result was not, however, a foregone conclusion. Investors at Berkshire Hathaway shot down the GHG proposal at its AGM this year, with less than half (26.5%) of votes backing it.

There has been a heightening of environmentally and socially driven shareholder resolutions making it to a vote this year, according to asset managers and activists, following a change in the SEC’s approach.

Travelers shareholders who attended last Wednesday’s AGM in person, of which shareholder activists estimated numbered in the region of 250 to 300, were met by protesters from the Connecticut Citizen Action Group.

Rally attendees urged the insurer to “stop insuring fossil fuels” and held banners asserting that “Travelers underwrites climate change”.

Travelers has been approached for comment.

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