Public Citizen is scaling up our multi-front Stop the Money Flow Action Plan built around two core goals:
- Use tough new financial regulations to dry up investments in Dirty Energy projects. The Security and Exchange Commission (SEC), Federal Reserve and other regulators have let fossil fuel companies, banks and hedge funds effectively hide the very real and very high financial risks associated with investing in climate-destroying enterprises. Requiring banks and other financial companies to convey those risks to investors and cracking down on this reckless behavior will dramatically reduce the amount of money available for fossil fuel investments
- Get the insurance industry to stop covering climate destruction. If fossil fuel companies can’t get insurance for their business, they can’t continue destroying our climate. And adding insult to injury, the insurance industry is using our premiums to cover an industry that is destroying our future! It’s time to put that to an end.
We’ve already made good early progress on both of these core goals, but there is so much more to do. It won’t be easy, not when we’re going up against some of the wealthiest, most politically powerful companies in the world, but shutting down the money pipeline is perhaps the quickest and most effective way to shut down the fossil fuel industry.
Dry Up Investments in Dirty Energy Projects
We’re doing everything we can to support ambitious legislation to directly target carbon pollution from oil and gas and coal.
But with the Republican Party marinating in fossil fuel money—and with too many Democrats still unwilling to support the bold legislation we desperately need—we can’t put all of our eggs in the Congressional basket.
We desperately need to begin shrinking the fossil fuel industry right now. And that’s why our focus on money flows—shutting down the money pipeline to shut down the oil pipeline—is so important. Because financial regulators already have all the authority to impose tough new requirements on fossil fuel investments.
All they need to do is exercise that authority. And that’s exactly what we’re pressing them, hard, to do, already with some early victories.
For example, after we called on the SEC to require public companies to make climate-related disclosures about their operations, the SEC announced that it would go forward with a new rule. Now, to make that rule as strong as possible, we’re coordinating other organizations and interested parties to provide comments to the SEC and connecting many of them with topic experts to make their input especially effective.
Whether they’re ordinary Americans trying to decide where to invest their retirement accounts or portfolio managers at investment firms, market participants have a right to know whether their investments are accelerating the climate crisis.
We’re also pressing the Federal Reserve especially hard to put climate issues front and center in its regulatory requirements. You can get into the weeds very quickly on financial regulations, but here’s the bottom line:
Regulators have not just the existing authority but an existing responsibility to require that financial and other corporations make clear all relevant financial risks—including risks from climate-destroying activities—and take appropriate precautions against those risks.
When that happens, the pool of financing available for fossil fuel projects will shrink dramatically.
As you can imagine, this is difficult, arcane advocacy work that requires substantial policy expertise. We’ve already expanded our advocacy and organizing teams and hope to bring in even more staff. But we urgently need a fresh infusion of resources.
Get Insurers to Stop Covering Climate Destruction
Insurance companies know better than most the immense financial risks caused by the climate crisis. After all, they’re the ones paying more year after year for damages caused by wildfires and floods and other climate-related natural disasters. And to their credit, some forward-thinking companies are ending or cutting back their coverage of fossil fuel projects.
But not AIG. The giant insurance company is one of a handful that still covers multi-billion-dollar coal projects. And it’s also one of the world’s three largest insurers of oil and gas projects, including, for example, the notorious Trans Mountain pipeline, a massive tar sands oil pipeline in Canada vehemently opposed by First Nations peoples.
AIG doesn’t just insure climate-destroying projects, the company holds almost $27 billion in fossil fuel investments! Stemming the climate crisis means we have to stop bad actors like AIG from using our premiums to prop up the Dirty Energy sector.
That’s why we’re targeting the company with our Stop the Money Flow Campaign. While our work with financial regulators to dry up investments in Dirty Energy projects is centered around our legal and advocacy expertise in Washington, our campaign against the insurance industry begins with grassroots action.
In March, for example, we responded to AIG’s tweets on sustainability by leading a social media campaign calling out the company’s hypocrisy. We conducted several campaigns around AIG’s annual meeting in May, including organizing 11,000 emails to executives, launching a petition drive and initiating in-person action outside their New York headquarters.
For insurance companies, there’s a reputational cost for propping up Dirty Energy companies, and, with your help today, we’re going to make sure companies like AIG keep paying it until they see the light.
But beyond our grassroots organizing and communications efforts, we’re also pushing for policy changes to rein in the insurance industry. In one tremendous, precedent-setting victory, we helped pass a bill in the Connecticut legislature that requires the state insurance regulator to direct insurers to align their investments and underwriting with science-based climate targets.
To our knowledge, no financial regulator in the world is doing what our new Connecticut law requires. Now we’re pushing for similar measures in New York and other states.