Paris, 27 April 2023 – At its annual general meeting (AGM), AXA missed the opportunity to regain its climate leadership. Despite a call from a representative from an impacted community to warn of the impacts of oil and gas projects in Texas, the group reiterated its support for new gas projects in the name of transition. While it is expected to announce a new climate plan soon, Reclaim Finance calls on AXA to catch up by committing, like its peers – Allianz, Swiss Re, Munich Re and Hannover Re – to no longer cover new gas fields in order to meet its net zero commitment following a 1.5°C trajectory.
AXA was called upon to strengthen its climate commitments at the AGM, and in particular to make a commitment not to support the development of new gas projects. Questioned by John Beard (1), who travelled to the AGM to warn everyone about the human and environmental impacts of the liquefied natural gas (LNG) export terminals planned for Texas, the insurer nevertheless confirmed its support for new gas projects in the name of the transition.
AXA and other insurance companies should immediately stop supporting the development of LNG and other fossil fuel projects. These investments come at the expense of the lives and health of the people of the southern Gulf of America. No one’s life should be placed at risk simply to satisfy corporate greed, and profit. Our lives should not, and cannot be sacrificed. We say no more. It stops here and now.
As the leader of the Net-Zero Insurance Alliance (NZIA) and the first insurer in the world to take restrictive measures against the coal industry, AXA remains today one of the last major European (re)insurers still willing to cover the new oil and gas fields (2).
AXA is turning a deaf ear to calls from people who, like John Beard, are on the front line of the human and environmental impacts of oil and gas projects. Instead of reaffirming his group’s climate leadership, Thomas Buberl continues to justify his support for new gas projects in the name of transition, defying the conclusions of scientists, the projections of the IEA and the commitments made by AXA’s competitors such as Allianz. Given that the Net-Zero Insurance Alliance lost three of its members this month, it is high time that AXA substantially increased its climate ambitions by committing to no longer cover new gas fields in its next climate plan.
At the meeting, AXA announced that it would clarify their interim decarbonisation targets to 2030 by early July and promised a new climate plan that “will incorporate an additional level of ambition in the group’s contribution to climate change”.
With the Net Zero Insurance Alliance losing three members this month, it is high time AXA seriously raised its climate ambitions in its next climate plan by committing to stop covering new gas fields. The announcement of its targets should also be an opportunity for AXA to catch up with, and even surpass, its peers in order to finally meet its climate commitments
The International Energy Agency (IEA) net zero emissions pathway shows a need to halt the development of new oil and gas fields as well as new LNG terminals for a 1.5°C trajectory. This still applies, despite the war in Ukraine, it has said, adding that the current situation does not justify the development of a new wave of fossil fuel infrastructure (3). Reclaim Finance calls on the Group to review its policy to remove the exception for new oil fields developed by so-called “transition” companies and to commit to no further coverage of new oil and gas production projects, or new transport and storage infrastructure, such as LNG terminals.
(1) John Beard is the founder and leader of the Port Arthur Community Action Network (PACAN).
A former employee of ExxonMobil, where he worked for 38 years, he lives near the site of the
Port Arthur LNG terminal, against which he is fighting for the rights of local communities and
(2) AXA, AXA GROUP POLICY ON COAL MINING AND COAL-BASED ENERGY , 2015
(3) IEA, World Energy Outlook 2022, 2022