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Probitas pulls out of EACOP and West Cumbria coal mine

London, 4 March 2024 – (guest content published by Extinction Rebellion) Major insurer Probitas1492 have today (Monday) confirmed that they will never insure two major ‘carbon bomb’ projects – the East African Crude Oil Pipeline and the proposed West Cumbria coal mine – after a week of peaceful protest from Extinction Rebellion (XR) and members of the Insure Our Future coalition.

On Tuesday last week, members of Christian Climate Action (CCA) visited the offices of several global underwriters, asking that they upgrade their policies in line with global climate goals and commit to stop profiting from new fossil fuel expansion.

CCA staged a peaceful sit-in at the City of London offices of Probitas on Tuesday last week as hundreds of XR activists staged a peaceful march called the Fossil Fools tour that visited the building . On Thursday, a previously unknown climate group called Stop The System claimed responsibility for spraying the windows of the same offices with red paint.

Probitas – who previously insured  the controversial Adani Carmichael coal mine in Australia but exited after a determined campaign by climate activists (1) – has never publicly ruled out insuring EACOP and West Cumbria.

But today their chief executive officer Ash Bathia finally made a public pledge that his company would never insure either project, while claiming that his statement was in no way connected to a week of pressure from activists in the UK.

Mr Bathia told Extinction Rebellion:

Ash Bathia

Chief Executive Officer of Probitas1492

“I can confirm that Probitas does not currently provide any insurance support, and has no intention of providing future insurance support, to the Adani Coal Mine, the West Cumbrian Coalmine Project, or the East African Crude Oil Pipeline. 

“Underwriting these projects would not be in compliance with our ESG policy. We would like to clarify that our stance on the above was already a matter of company policy and has not changed following the recent protests and criminal damage caused during the XR protests.”

There is widespread agreement among the world’s leading energy experts, climate scientists and the UN that new fossil fuel projects cannot go ahead if we are to limit dangerous levels of global overheating. In 2022, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said ‘investing in new fossil fuels is moral and economic madness.’

In advance of  a global week of action on fossil fuel insurance, Probitas were one of more than 40 insurers in the City of London sent letters by Extinction Rebellion, notifying that they could face protests unless they bring their policies in line with mainstream science. This means enacting a complete and immediate withdrawal from insuring new and expanding oil, gas and coal projects, infrastructure and operations.

Extinction Rebellion spokesperson Pete Knapp said:

Pete Knapp

Extinction Rebellion spokesperson

“We’re extremely pleased that the leaders of Probitas have made the brave and rational decision to be on the right side of history, to ensure their business has a sustainable future, and that all of us have a better chance of a future, free of killer storms and heatwaves, famine, flood and war.

“By listening to our voices and our protests and publicly announcing that they have stepped back from insuring two lethal fossil fuel projects that would have super-charged the climate and ecological crisis, Probitas has set an example for the rest of the global insurance industry to follow.

“Another major insurance firm, Zurich, has requested a second round of talks with campaigners, including Extinction Rebellion, about their continued greenlighting of new oil and gas projects after a week of sustained protest. So, it’s clear that our pressure is beginning to tell.

“Now we say to other insurers still refusing to pull the plug on polluters: this is your chance to be climate heroes by announcing that you are exiting new fossil fuels.”

Christian Climate Action spokesperson Mark Francis said:

Mark Francis

Christian Climate Action spokesperson

“We want to congratulate Probitas on choosing not to insure the East African Crude Oil Pipeline. This pipeline, if it goes ahead, will devastate local habitats, and create highly dangerous levels of carbon pollution. We urge all other insurers to take the same position and announce that they will not insure the fossil fuel industry’s plan to extract more dirty fuel than can ever be safely burnt.”

Today Aviva announces a £242m acquisition of Probitas, signaling the insurance giant’s re-entry into the Lloyd’s of London marketplace. Will Attenborough, a spokesperson for Coal Action Network, said: ‘Aviva is a relative leader on climate. This new relationship with Probitas, a firm known to have insured coal expansion as recently as last year, must not weaken Aviva’s standards. We ask Aviva to show leadership and encourage Probitas to upgrade their policies in line with global climate goals.’

Last week, Extinction Rebellion protests and actions moved from London to visit insurance offices in cities and towns across the UK. They were organised in solidarity with the Insure Our Future Global Week of Action which saw marchesand peaceful sit-ins happen on four days across the City of London, and actions in 24 countries around the world including: the USA, France, Germany, Switzerland, Czechia, Austria, Slovakia, Hungary, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Egypt, Nigeria, Uganda, Tanzania, DRC, Costa Rica, Colombia, Peru, South Korea and Japan.

Notes to Editors

  1. Probitas 1492 move away from Adani coal mine https://www.insurancebusinessmag.com/au/news/environmental/probitas-1492-confirms-move-away-from-adani-451916.aspx

Extinction Rebellion UK’s relationship with Insure Our Future

Extinction Rebellion is organising its Insurance Week of Action in solidarity with campaign group Insure Our Future’s Global Week of Action. Insure Our Future and its partners are taking action against the insurance industry this week all over the world. Other groups taking action in the UK include Mothers Rise Up, Tipping Point UK, StopEACOP, Quakers UK, Coal Action Network, and Eko.

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