Top insurance firms urged to stop supporting fossil fuels

March 1, 2024

Climate activists on Friday called on big insurance companies to “stop insuring and underwriting fossil fuel projects” and end their support to major carbon polluters. 

In a protest rally in Makati City, Philippines, the activists criticized Japan’s Tokio Marine and Korea’s Samsung Fire & Marine Insurance (SFMI), two of the world’s top 20 insurers. 

The demonstrators said both companies “have not completely phased out their support” for coal projects and have “ withdrawn from the Net Zero Insurance Alliance”.

“Big companies which insure fossil fuel projects are complicit in the harms being inflicted on people and the planet,” said Lidy Nacpil, coordinator of the Asian Peoples’ Movement on Debt and Development. 

Nacpil said the world’s insurance industry is “guaranteeing a future” with more devastating human-induced disasters and aggravated climate crisis impacts “if it continues to [cater] fossil fuel companies and their projects”. 

“We urge them to put people and planet first over profits, respect human rights, and support the urgent transition from dangerous fossil fuels to renewable energy, ” she said. 

Climate campaigners from India and Bangladesh criticized insurance companies for backing fossil fuel projects, including large coal plants in their countries. 

They pointed out the risks of insuring controversial coal and gas plants in their regions.

Sharif Jamil from Waterkeepers Bangladesh said the dangers posed by Tokio Marine and Samsung Fire & Marine’s involvement in the fossil fuel sector, specifically mentioning the Meghanghat plant’s impact on local communities.

Nishant Alag of India’s Environics Trust condemned the support of dirty coal plants by Tokio Marine and Samsung FM. He argued for a future free from fossil fuel investments by insurance companies.

Insure Our Future, a global NGO network, noted that 20 companies provide most of the insurance for the fossil fuel industry, earning about $21.25 billion in 2022. 

The group celebrated a significant win as 45 major insurers agreed to stop or limit insurance for coal projects. Their 2023 report also mentioned that 18 companies have restricted oil and gas projects, and 26 have policies against insuring tar sands projects.

Work on the East African Crude Oil Pipeline was halted after 28 insurers withdrew due to environmental and human rights concerns, stopping what would have been the world’s longest heated oil pipeline.

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