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Global association of Insurance CEOs confronted by climate protest at 50th summit – Will they ‘Safeguard the Planet’ or Greenwash business as usual?

Zurich, 28 November 2023 – Insure Our Future campaigners are protesting at the Geneva Association’s 50th anniversary summit in Zurich today, demanding that the global insurance industry take immediate action to slow the climate crisis and support the urgent transition from fossil fuels to renewables. 

The Geneva Association calls itself the only international association of insurance companies and its members are the CEOs of 78 global insurance and reinsurance companies. These include the top insurers of fossil fuels globally, such as John Neal (Lloyd’s of London), Peter Zaffino (AIG) and Mario Greco (Zurich). Together, its members have over $500 billion invested in some combination of oil, gas, coal, utilities and related activities. Campaigners are calling on these heads of industry to stop investing in fossil fuel companies; to stop insuring new fossil fuel projects and to phase down their existing insurances in fossil fuel projects and companies, inline with pathways targeting 1.5C.

The CEOs and other senior insurance industry members attending the 2-day 50th anniversary summit are being confronted by a series of creative protests by activists, including banners stating: ‘50 years of insuring climate failure’; a large burning birthday cake, dripping with oil; posters displaying images of climate catastrophes and naming CEOs of some the largest fossil fuel insurers as accomplices in climate crimes.

Nora Scheel

Campaigns Manager for Campax

“This event is a clear attempt at greenwashing on the eve of the Cop28 climate summit, when we urgently need clear leadership and decisive steps to move away from fossil fuel usage and lower greenhouse gas emissions, in-line with the Paris Agreement. If the insurance industry continues to underwrite fossil fuel expansion the world will be uninsurable and unrecognisable within 50 years.” 

A handful of campaigners from Insure Our Future have been allowed entry to the event and will represent their demands directly to the CEOs, whilst many other civil society groups requests to attend were rejected.

Lindsay Keenan

European coordinator of Insure Our Future

“Putting climate on the agenda for discussion is not enough, it is serious action that is urgently required. The science is clear and insurers have known it now for several decades.  Insurance industry CEOs should immediately adopt policies for their companies to stop insuring fossil fuel expansion and stop investing in fossil fuels. Our collective future depends on it.” 

The keynote speech by MAPFRE CEO, Antonio Huertas Mejías, – significantly  titled, ‘Insuring the Future- Safeguarding the Planet’ – is expected to be notable, either as a major milestone in climate policy or in greenwashing. MAPFRE’s stated policy is to not insure coal, gas and oil companies which do not commit to an energy transition plan that allows global warming to be maintained at around 1.5C. However, it is known to insure oil majors including Repsol and Petroperu, and faces a lawsuit and community complaints following the Repsol oil spill of 2022 in Peru (see note 3).

 

Notes

  1. For photographic footage, please use this link, available from 12.30 CET: https://flic.kr/s/aHBqjB3Y9C
  2. Insure Our Future released the seventh annual scorecard on Insurance, fossil fuels and the climate emergency on 9th November, rating the 30 leading primary insurers and reinsurers on their fossil fuel policies and practices. More info: https://global.insure-our-future.com/scorecard/
  3. MAPFRE are currently facing a lawsuit from the Peruvian government and backlash from local communities for their failure to adequately address the devastation caused by the Repsol oil spill of 2022, or provide sufficient compensation. Campaigners from Peruvian NGO CooperAcción are among those who have been refused entry to the summit, and representatives from CooperAcción will be taking part in an action outside, calling for MAPFRE to pay up. For further information, please contact Thomas Niederberger, [email protected] , +41765009291
  4. Natural catastrophes, exacerbated by human-made climate change, caused an estimated $270 billion in damages in 2022, of which approximately $120 billion were insured. They left a trail of destruction affecting millions of people worldwide, with the biggest impacts on poor and marginalised communities which have contributed least to climate change.

Swiss Re Institute (March 29 2023): https://www.swissre.com/institute/research/sigma-research/sigma-2023-01/5-charts-losses-natural-catastrophes.html

Munich Re (January 20 2023): https://www.munichre.com/en/company/media-relations/media-information-and-corporate-news/media-information/2023/natural-disaster-figures-2022.html.

Ilana Winterstein
Senior Communications Campaigner for Insure Our Future +31 645846770
[email protected]

Lindsay Keenan
European Coordinator of Insure Our Future +46 735 091 033
(Lindsay will be attending the summit and will be available for comment on the inside perspective)

Nora Scheel
Campaign Manager for Campax (German Swiss media) +41 44 500 76 04
[email protected]

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