NEW YORK, NY — 73 groups today sent a letter calling on AIG’s new CEO Peter Zaffino to stop insuring new fossil fuel projects and rapidly phase out insurance for existing fossil fuel projects and companies that are not in line with the aims of the Paris Climate Agreement.
AIG is among the world’s top-three insurers of oil and gas, and is one of the only companies able and willing to insure multi-billion-dollar coal projects. The campaign to hold AIG accountable for its role in the climate crisis kicked off last month with an event at AIG’s New York headquarters on Zaffino’s first day as CEO.
“You can make AIG a bold leader among U.S. insurers by enacting policies that align AIG’s underwriting and investments with a 1.5°C limit to global warming — the only path to a safe future,” reads the statement, which was signed by Indigenous leaders and Nations, climate justice groups, community organizations, and public health groups.
Energy companies need insurance to build and operate fossil fuel projects. As scrutiny on the role of insurers in climate change has increased, signers highlight that at least 26 insurance companies globally have ended or limited their coverage for coal projects; 11 have limited or ended cover for tar sands oil; and 3 have ruled out insuring oil and gas drilling in the Arctic.
AIG is one of only a small number of major global insurers that has not adopted a single policy to restrict support for fossil fuels.
“Peter Zaffino has long recognized the risks of climate change, but his company has done virtually nothing to address its role in the crisis. As the new CEO, Zaffino must take urgent action to turn AIG into a company that prevents harm rather than fuels it,” said Hannah Saggau, Climate Campaigner at Public Citizen. “Right now, AIG works for the fossil fuel industry — insuring their controversial pipelines and ecologically devastating coal mines at the expense of local communities and our climate.”
Among the projects AIG insures is the Trans Mountain pipeline in Canada, which devastates the environment and violates Indigenous rights. Trans Mountain has had 85 spills to date, contaminating the water and land of First Nations peoples who have resisted the pipeline and its proposed expansion. The pipeline’s expansion would lock in further destructive extraction of Alberta tar sands. Trans Mountain recently petitioned the Canadian Energy Regulator to hide the names of its insurers from the public.
“AIG’s business relationship with Trans Mountain threatens our land, our water, our people, and our life. It is a violation of Tsleil-Waututh’s inherent and constitutionally-recognized Aboriginal rights, title, and interests and our unextinguished Indigenous laws,” said Charlene Aleck, spokesperson for the Tsleil-Waututh Nation Sacred Trust Initiative. “Unfortunately, we cannot insure against the damage caused by colonialism, but we can take steps together to ensure a future on this planet that is healthy and thriving. Expanding oil and gas pipeline and tanker projects like Trans Mountain is the exact opposite direction of where we need to go.”
As of 2019, AIG was also insuring work at the Adani Group’s Carmichael coal mine in Australia. It may no longer be insuring Adani, but will not rule it out. The mine would produce 4.6 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide over its lifetime—equivalent to the annual emissions of almost 100 million passenger vehicles—and is opposed by affected communities. At least 35 insurers globally have ruled out providing insurance for the mine, but AIG has refused to do so.
Ending support for fossil fuels also makes financial sense: climate change-driven natural catastrophes cost insurers $76 billion in 2020, one of the costliest years on record as a result of severe wildfires and storms in the U.S. Exiting the coal sector can also boost insurers’ valuations and reduce financial risks for insurance companies.
The groups called on AIG to adopt the following measures:
- Immediately stop insuring new and expanded coal, oil, and gas projects.
- Stop all insurance cover for existing coal sector clients.
- Phase out insurance for oil and gas companies, in line with a 1.5°C limit to global warming.
- Divest from coal, oil, and gas companies whose businesses are not consistent with a 1.5°C limit to global warming.
With respect to the Trans Mountain pipeline, the groups called on AIG to:
- Commit not to insure the Trans Mountain pipeline and its expansion in advance of the August 31, 2021 renewal date.
- Commit to uphold Indigenous rights by denying coverage to projects that do not have the Free, Prior, and Informed Consent of impacted communities.
Read the letter here.