World’s largest reinsurer must align its policies with climate science, say Urgewald and Dachverband der Kritischen Aktionär*innen ahead of its Annual General Meeting
Ahead of Munich Re’s Annual General Meeting (AGM) on April 28, the environmental and human rights organization Urgewald, as a member of the international campaign network Insure our Future, together with the Dachverband der Kritischen Aktionär*innen, criticizes the lack of climate ambition of Munich Re, the world’s largest reinsurer.
In particular, Urgewald and Dachverband der Kritischen Aktionär*innen proposed that the shareholders not ratify the actions of the members of the Board of Management. In their counter-motion they state that Munich Re is “failing to sufficiently fulfil its responsibility to implement more effective measures for climate protection,” primarily because it has not committed to stop insuring and investing in new oil and gas projects.
Ahead of the AGM, the organization SumOfUs also launched a digital campaign calling on Munich Re to close the gaps in its oil and gas policy. As of Tuesday evening, the petition already received over 34,541 signatures.
Munich Re has been warning of the catastrophic effects of climate change for almost 50 years. CEO Joachim Wenning stressed the urgency of climate action at COP26 in Glasgow and again recently in the German press, specifically emphasizing the need to transition away from fossil fuels and toward renewable energy. Nevertheless, Munich Re continues to market to the oil and gas industry along the entire value chain on its own corporate website, soliciting clients that handle “a large volume of hydrocarbons.”
Meanwhile, its main competitors Swiss Re and Hannover Re, the second and third largest reinsurers, respectively, have committed to not insure new oil and gas projects. Now, Munich Re must follow its peers and adopt an oil and gas policy that aligns with climate science.
"Munich Re should not just warn about the climate catastrophe and then wait for politicians to act. Instead, Munich Re must adopt a comprehensive oil and gas policy that specifically excludes new oil and gas projects. Oil and gas expansion is an absolute no-go from a climate perspective - Munich Re must make this clear in its own business if the company wants to retain its credibility."
Munich Re also still has homework to do in the coal sector. While Munich Re has lowered the exclusion threshold for coal companies for investments to 15 percent and has excluded the (re)insurance of coal-fired power plants and coal mines since 2018, it has only done so at the project level. For so-called treaty reinsurance, where primary insurers or entire groups of risks are reinsured, the company only aims to be completely coal-free by 2040. Additionally, in 2021, Munich Re was again one of PZU’s main reinsurers in Poland. PZU is an insurance company that underwrites much of Poland’s coal industry.
"By supporting the coal sector, PZU undermines the stability of the climate and the Polish economy in the medium and long term and worsens air pollution that ruins our health. PZU's activities also affect the availability and quality of water, thus contributing to drought."