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Pressure on Insurers to End Fossil Fuel Investment & Underwriting Getting Results

Ann Gadwah

For the past year, Sierra Club Connecticut has partnered with Connecticut Citizen Action Group on the Insure Our Future Campaign, a national effort to hold the US insurance industry accountable for its role in the climate crisis. Here in our home state, we are urging Connecticut insurance companies to divest from fossil fuels, stop insuring fossil fuel projects, and commit to policies that keep global warming limited to 1.5 degrees celsius. 


Our flagship industry plays a big role enabling fossil fuels. In April 2020, Insure our Future released a report on how Connecticut insurance companies are fueling the climate emergency. They have over $220 billion invested in fossil fuel companies, and insure untold numbers of fossil fuel projects. Then in December, Insure our Future released a 2020 scorecard on Insurance, Fossil Fuels, and Climate Change. This scorecard shows the leading insurers, assessing and scoring their policies on insuring and investing in coal, oil, gas, and tar sands, as well as other aspects of climate leadership. This information is the most up to date and an invaluable resource in our work on this campaign. It guides and informs our decisions. Take a minute to check out these reports and find out how your insurance companies rate! 


With this information at our fingertips, we have taken action. Hundreds of Connecticut residents have raised their voices in calls, emails, letters demanding that insurance companies, including The Hartford, CIGNA, Travelers, and W.R. Berkley, stop being a link in the money pipeline that props up the fossil fuel industry. We have met with representatives of Travelers, CVS Health (parent company of Aetna), CIGNA and The Hartford, outlining our concerns and demands.


Even Santa visited Traveler’s CEO Alan Schnitzer over remarks about how coal is still a significant part of our economy and we shouldn’t abandon it yet. And Santa gave Mr. Schnitzer a stocking full of that coal for these remarks! (See Tweet here).


Thank you to everyone who has participated in these actions. They are having an impact!


In November, a video of Steve Johnson, the CFO of Basin Electric, a North Dakota based utility which generates the majority of its power from coal, was shared in which he said:


"If you recall, last year as part of my presentation I showed a portion of a video highlighting the efforts of a group known as Unfriend Coal. The message was an attempt to convince insurers to stop providing insurance coverage to entities that have coal as part of their portfolio. Without insurance, those entities would simply not be able to operate.


Frankly, the group has been relatively successful and has become even more aggressive in its campaign. Unfriend Coal has changed its name to Insure Our Future and has expanded its scope to urge all insurers and reinsurers to end all support for new oil and gas projects. Without going into detail, I can state that Basin Electric has been impacted by these efforts."


And last month, Travelers became the 30th insurance company to rule out insuring the controversial Adani coal mine in Australia. This is a huge deal and proof that our campaign is working. Let’s keep it up and ensure that Connecticut based insurance companies adopt policies ending all investment and underwriting of fossil fuel projects. 


If you would like to get involved in this important and timely local campaign, please email me Ann Gadwah or Angel Serrano. Onward! 


Photo Credit to Kelly O’Brien

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