Insurance Companies in Connecticut are Backing Fossil Fuels

Samantha Dynowski

Insurance Companies in Connecticut are B

Photo: Aetna headquarters in Hartford, CT

Photo credit: Flickr-Coyoty

For decades, we have known about the threat of climate change. The cause of climate change has been established by science: fossil fuels. As a Sierra Club member, I know you are keenly aware of this and have taken actions to reduce your own carbon footprint. You are probably taking steps like buying more local food, weatherizing your home, switching to LED light bulbs, installing solar panels, or purchasing or considering buying an electric car. I’ve been doing these things too and have plans to do more.

 

That’s why it is so frustrating to learn that while we are making changes in our lives, fossil fuel companies are continuing with business as usual, or worse, and banks and insurance companies are helping them. In the three years after the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement was adopted, big banks have poured $1.9 trillion into underwriting and lending to fossil fuel companies, and the 40 largest U.S. insurers hold over $450 billion in coal, oil, gas and electric utility stocks and bonds. 

Not for long, with your help! 

 

Grassroots campaigns urging banks, asset managers, and insurance companies to stop investing in and insuring fossil fuels have taken off. Last month, after unrelenting pressure from grassroots activists all over the world, BlackRock -- the world’s largest fossil fuel investor -- announced it will put "climate change at the center of its investment strategy.” 

 

As residents of Connecticut, the “Insurance Capital of the World”, we have a unique role to play in stopping insurance companies from funding and insuring fossil fuels. Please join me and your fellow Connecticut Chapter members and supporters in putting pressure on insurance companies to stop providing insurance to fossil fuel projects and to stop investing their assets in fossil fuels. 

I was surprised to learn, thanks to a California Department of Insurance initiative that collects data on the insurance industry’s fossil fuel-based investments, how much insurance companies are investing in fossil fuels. Here are estimates of how much some insurance companies in our state are backing fossil fuels:

  • CIGNA, headquartered in Bloomfield, has over $2.25 billion invested in fossil fuels. 

  • The Hartford, headquartered in Hartford, has over $3.3 billion invested in fossil fuels.

  • Travelers, whose largest office is in Hartford, has over $850 million in fossil fuels.

  • W.R. Berkley, headquartered in Greenwich, has over $2.2 billion invested in fossil fuels.

 

There is not a similar initiative to track the insuring of fossil fuel projects, but we can assume the insurance industry is providing insurance to fossil fuel power plants and pipelines because insurance is a necessity to do just about anything.

 

Insurance companies are supposed to be protecting us from catastrophic events, so it is disturbing that they are funding the cause of the biggest threat to human beings ever.

 

Stop the Money Pipeline. Insure Our Future NOT Fossil Fuels! Take action today by sending a message to insurance companies here in Connecticut. 

 

If you want to get more involved, please let me know at samantha.dynowski@sierraclub.org

 

1 Climate Risk Carbon Initiative

 

Samantha Dynowski is State Director, Sierra Club Connecticut.