American International Group (AIG) is the title sponsor of the British Women’s Open golf tournament — and the fossil fuel industry
By Kerrina Williams
American International Group, Inc. (AIG) is the tenth largest insurance provider to fossil fuels in the world. It is also the title sponsor of the British Women’s Open golf tournament. CEO Peter Zaffino believes AIG’s sponsorship of the Women’s Open shows its dedication to gender equity and its “dedication to having a meaningful impact” on society at large. AIG does have a massive impact on society — last year it collected $425-675 million from the fossil fuel industry and continues to support existing and new climate-polluting projects.
Historically, AIG has tried to use the Women’s Open for good publicity and to position itself as an ally to women. But this year, activists didn’t let that happen without a challenge. On the last day of the event, activists disrupted the tournament to expose AIG’s refusal to rule out supporting the East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP) and to send a message: stop insuring the climate crisis.
The insurance industry knows climate change is a threat to all of us. Instead of taking action and ruling out coverage of oil and gas expansion, AIG continues to insure and profit off fossil fuel projects, then abandon the communities impacted by climate change — a crisis that disproportionately harms women, and particularly women of color.
As long as AIG supports oil and gas projects and lacks human rights protections such as a free, prior, informed consent policy, claims of allyship are merely feminist posturing, an attempt to convince the public positive change is happening without actually making transformational changes to business practices. Unlike 22 other insurers, AIG has not ruled out support for EACOP that will cut through settlements, farmlands, and water sources for thousands of people. If completed, EACOP would enable the extraction and transport of enough oil to generate over 34 million tons of climate pollution per year. An Oxfam Environmental and Social Impact Assessment concluded that EACOP will disproportionately harm women’s ability to work and provide for their families, and will increase the risk of physical violence along the pipeline route. The project has already caused large-scale displacement of communities and harm to human rights defenders in Uganda and Tanzania.
Insurance companies have the power to stop new fossil fuel development by excluding coverage for coal, oil, and gas projects. Fossil fuel companies can’t operate without insurance. AIG can be a true ally to women and society by cutting ties with fossil fuels, ruling out support for EACOP, and immediately ending its practice of insuring new and expanded coal, oil, and gas projects.
Our demands of AIG are clear. Insurers must stop teeing up climate chaos.
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