On Sunday, October 17th and Monday, October 18th, climate campaigners from a number of groups, including the Insure Our Future campaign, Parents for Future and Fridays for Future, gathered to call on attendees of the Baden-Baden Reinsurance Conference to rule out coal from all reinsurance, including treaty reinsurance, to stop insuring all new oil and gas projects and to phase out existing oil and gas insurance in line with the 1.5C Paris Agreement goal.
On Sunday, campaigners from across Europe welcomed conference attendees with banners, flyers, speeches and street painting. On Monday, activists welcomed conference attendees dressed up as CEO’s from Swiss Re, Lloyd’s and Munich Re in the fountain outside the conference center. Campaigners had a clear message for the insurance industry: “Insure Our Future, not fossil fuels.”
Treaty reinsurance remains a major loophole in reinsurers’ exit from coal. While many reinsurers have adopted policies to stop direct coal coverage, only a few have so far publicly committed to phase out coal from their treaty business. Swiss Re and SCOR have said they will start to do so in 2023, and Munich Re has stated that a decarbonisation strategy for treaty reinsurance is currently under development. In the meantime, they continue to reinsure highly polluting coal mines and power plants.
“The world’s biggest reinsurance companies - Swiss Re, Munich Re, Hannover Re, SCOR, MAPFRE and the U.K. Lloyd’s of London insurance market - are still reinsuring coal through companies like PZU in Poland and OZK in Bulgaria. All reinsurers must close this loophole and stop supporting coal, now.”
Burning oil and gas is one of the biggest sources of greenhouse gas emissions. Just this week, the International Energy Agency concluded that there is no justification for supporting new oil and gas projects under a net zero scenario, and phasing out current operations over time is necessary to stop a rise in global temperature above 1.5C. As society’s risk manager, insurance companies have a responsibility to act on the science and immediately stop insuring all new fossil fuel projects.
“Contradicting their own climate commitments, insurers are profiting from climate destruction by continuing to underwrite the expansion of the oil and gas industry. Allianz, AXA, Munich Re, SCOR and Zurich’s continued support of new oil and gas projects is completely at odds with the Paris Agreement and ignores science. The weight of evidence continues to grow: It’s time for action.”
“We are desperate, we are furious, and we will not accept that the future of our children be ignored by fossil fuel insurers like PZU. Reinsuring coal and underwriting new oil and gas that directly contribute to the destruction of life on our planet and at the same time preaching about caring for the life, health and future of children is a clear sign of hypocrisy.”
- Poland is still largely powered by coal. Polish insurer PZU is the biggest coal insurer in Poland. PZU underwrites over 85% of coal mining in Poland and the vast majority of coal and lignite power plants including – Bełchatów, the biggest GHGs emitter on the European continent, and Turów power plant. The following major European insurance companies reinsure PZU: Swiss Re, Munich Re, Hannover Re, Gen Re (Berkshire Hathaway), Lloyd’s of London and VIG Re. Learn more here.
- Like Poland, Bulgaria is still heavily dependent on coal. Dependence on coal in Bulgaria leads to water stress in coal producing regions, as well as pollution of sulfur dioxide amongst other heavy particle pollutants. OZK is the largest insurer of coal in Bulgaria, and it has no credible phase out plan. In September 2021, OZK stated that they have “no refusal to reinsurance of coal and coal operations”. Learn more here.
- Energy network operator Gasunie is planning to build a liquified natural gas (LNG) terminal in Brunsbüttel, Northern Germany. Last week, climate campaigners sent an open letter to the current insurers of Gasunie – Munich Re, AXA, HDI / Talanx, Zurich Insurance Group, AIG Europe, SCOR, Allianz, Chubb and Liberty Mutual – calling on them not to underwrite the proposed Brunsbüttel LNG terminal because it, and any other new or expanding fossil fuel projects, will lock the world into decades of additional greenhouse gas emissions, further fuelling the climate crisis. Zurich Insurance Group has since confirmed with Insure Our Future that “Zurich will not insure the Brunsbüttel project.” Learn more here.