Driving climate chaos down the fairway

June 28, 2022

By East Peterson-Trujillo

Last Wednesday, I woke up at the crack of dawn with a mission: pay a visit to the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship to spread the word about tournament sponsor American International Group’s (AIG) irresponsible inaction on the climate crisis. Despite our long-running campaign, AIG has yet to rule out insuring and investing in fossil fuel expansion projects that are wrecking our planet. This event was the perfect opportunity to tell the company to stop teeing up climate chaos and insure our future instead. 

In the early morning hours before golfers teed off, we placed 40 lawn signs along the route to the tournament entrance. As spectators entered the event, they saw our calls for AIG to stop insuring fossil fuels. 

Fossil fuel companies need insurance coverage to finance and build new projects. AIG is one of the world’s top insurance providers to the oil and gas sector—enabling the industry’s dangerous expansion in the midst of a climate emergency.

AIG has yet to end all insurance for and investments in fossil fuel expansion, despite the fact that scientists and world leaders agree that there is no room for additional fossil fuel production in a net-zero future. Meanwhile, 10 of AIG’s peers, including some of the world’s largest insurance companies, have restricted insurance for new oil and gas projects.

AIG has also failed to rule out insurance for the Trans Mountain Pipeline, a project opposed by Indigenous peoples. The company was listed on the project’s last publicly available insurance certificate. AIG must establish robust due diligence and verification mechanisms to ensure clients, like Trans Mountain Corporation, fully respect and observe all human rights, including the right to Free, Prior and Informed Consent–meaning that Indigenous peoples have a right to “to give or withhold consent to a project that may affect them or their territories,” according to the United Nations.

Earlier this year, AIG announced its first ever climate commitments: it now restricts insurance for the coal sector and has committed to a phase out of fossil fuels and to adopting science-based emissions reduction targets, among other policies.

Yet since announcing these targets, AIG has refused to elaborate on them. Public-facing commitments like these without a roadmap toward implementation amount to greenwashing. Public Citizen decided that this AIG-sponsored tournament was a good chance to let AIG executives—and the spectators—know that the company has yet to commit to the urgent climate action the planet needs.

My colleagues and I returned to the tournament two days later to find our original signs gone, a police presence, and resistance to our protest. We staked more signs and held our banner to grab the attention of attendees as they arrived on shuttle buses. Despite standing on a public road, tournament security instructed us to vacate the premises after 10 minutes, and immediately tore down our signs after we left. 

Luckily, we had more up our sleeves: we did a quick outfit change and then entered the tournament and placed flyers in the bathroom stalls and on spectators’ cars in the lot. 

Until AIG strengthens its vague climate commitments, we’ll call the company out at sponsored sports events, recruiting fairs, and company headquarters for continuing to insure oil and gas expansion. 

Join us in ramping up the pressure on this massive oil and gas insurer.

Send an email to AIG executives now telling them to insure our future, not fossil fuels!