Munich Re, the world’s largest reinsurer, is being called on by campaigners from Insure Our Future for its failure to rule out oil and gas insurance, despite its competitors adopting exit policies in recent weeks. Munich Re has demonstrated a willingness to act on climate, but its steps are far too small for the urgency of the climate crisis. The United Nations Secretary-General, António Guterres warns that climate pledges are not enough to salvage a habitable planet:
"Despite growing pledges of climate action, global emissions are at an all-time high and they continue to rise...If we don’t see significant and sustained emissions reductions this decade, the window of opportunity to keep 1.5 alive will be closed – and closed forever."
In its flagship report, the International Energy Agency said that “no fossil fuel exploration is required and no new oil and natural gas fields are required beyond those that have already been approved for development” in a net-zero emissions scenario. Even Munich Re’s own chief climate scientist, Ernst Rauch acknowledged that the floods in Germany during Summer 2021 are clearly linked to global warming:
"Climate attribution science clearly links these flash flood events [in Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands] to global warming. And the physics are very clear."
Despite this, Munich Re is failing to mitigate the escalation of climate change by continuing to insure oil and gas projects and companies. At the same time, Munich Re is profiting from the impacts of climate change by raising premiums for homeowners and thus transferring the costs to its customers.
As society’s risk managers, insurance companies are supposed to protect us from catastrophic risks. In recent weeks, Swiss Re, Hannover Re and MAPFRE have all adopted oil and gas exit policies.