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Fifteen Years after Great Recession, Activists Call on AIG to Prevent Financial Meltdown Caused by Climate Change

NEW YORK — Fifteen years after  American International Group Inc. (AIG) nearly failed due to reckless financial practices, forcing the federal government to respond with a $182 billion bailout, protesters today rallied at the company’s headquarters, calling on the insurance giant to take steps to quickly end its risky underwriting and investments in fossil fuels. 

“For years, AIG has fueled the climate crisis, endangering its own customers, insurance markets, and the broader economy,” said Rick Morris, insurance campaigner with Public Citizen’s Climate Program. “In 2008, AIG threatened to destroy the global economy with risky finance bets. Now it’s doing the same with reckless underwriting of fossil fuels. We’re calling on the company to align its business with its science-based climate targets before it’s too late.” 

Outside the headquarters, activists called on AIG to end its insurance and finance fossil fuel projects like the East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP), Trans Mountain Tar Sands Oil Pipeline, and Freeport LNG. Activists from communities harmed by AIG’s practices urged employees and passersby to end deep investments in the fossil fuel industry. 

On Wednesday evening, Public Citizen projected images onto the front of AIG’s office, (photos available here) demanding it stop insuring the climate crisis.

Despite  announcing commitments in March 2022 to restrict support for coal, tar sands oil, and Arctic energy, and to chart a science-based pathway to align its insurance and investments with net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, AIG remains one of the world’s top ten insurers of oil and gas.

Earlier this year, Public Citizen uncovered evidence AIG continues to provide insurance coverage for Freeport LNG, a fossil gas facility about 70 miles south of Houston. In June 2022, an explosion shut down the Freeport LNG export facility that federal pipeline safety regulators found to be caused by inadequate operating and testing procedures, human error and fatigue. AIG has refused to commit publicly to discontinue insuring Freeport LNG when its current policy expires at the end of September.

“AIG’s coverage for Freeport LNG shows that insurers aren’t going to make changes to how they insure and invest in fossil fuels without pressure,” said Kerrina Williams, climate campaign coordinator with Public Citizen’s Climate Team. “These actions at AIG’s headquarters are exposing the company’s deep connections with Big Oil. Without change, the insurance industry will push the climate to a tipping point.”

U.S. insurers have approximately $582 billion invested in fossil fuels. And fossil fuel companies can’t operate without insurance coverage. Earlier this year, State Farm General Insurance Company, Allstate Insurance Company, and AIG all announced major cutbacks on accepting new homeowners insurance applications from various parts of the country due to increased climate risks, without announcing any curbs on underwriting or investing in fossil fuels.

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