Most of the world’s biggest insurance and reinsurance companies are undercutting the goals of the Paris Agreement and undermining Indigenous rights by continuing to underwrite coal, tar sands/oil sands, and pipeline projects, according to a new scorecard released this week by Unfriend Coal.
“Climate science and the growing human and economic toll of climate disasters both demonstrate that we cannot afford to build any new coal and tar sands projects,” said the organization’s European coordinator, Lucie Pinson. “Insurance CEOs need to scale up their ambitions to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement and immediately ditch these extreme fossil fuels.”
“Insurance companies should not insure projects which violate Indigenous rights to free, prior informed consent and undermine the Paris climate agreement,” said Ska-Hiish Manuel of the Secwepemc First Nation, a delegate to the Indigenous Network on Economies and Trade. “They should stay out of the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project, which Indigenous claimants and their allies have challenged in the courts through 19 separate legal proceedings.”
The scorecard shows progress on coal divestment, with at least 17 major insurers pulling $23 billion in investment out of the coal industry and five of them refusing to insure new coal projects. But “so far, only AXA has stopped insuring tar sands and the associated pipeline projects and divested €700 million from the respective companies, while Swiss Re has stopped insuring new (but not existing) tar sands projects,” the release notes. “Major insurance companies which continue to insure coal and tar sands include Munich Re, AIG, Generali, and Lloyds.”
The Geneva Association, an insurance industry think tank, is meeting in Paris this week, but Unfriend Coal says the organization’s board specifically declined a request to meet and review the concerns in the report. “Ahead of the meeting, the Paris city council called on the world’s biggest insurers to end support for the coal industry, citing its impact on climate change and the pollution that causes nearly 23,000 premature deaths across Europe every year,” the release notes.