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Insurance giant AIG still doing nothing on climate

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By David Arkush (@David_Arkush), Managing Director, Climate Program, Public Citizen

In January 2020, outgoing AIG CEO Brian Duperreault made a point of saying that AIG will continue to offer insurance for the coal industry. This was after the company hired a sustainability officer and made a big deal of the fact that it’s one of the few U.S. insurance companies to file a climate disclosure report with Mike Bloomberg’s Task Force on Climate-Related Financial Disclosures. So perhaps it’s not surprising that the new insurance scorecard from Insure our Future shows that AIG is at the back of the pack on climate action. AIG is one of the few insurers who has yet to adopt a single policy to restrict underwriting or investing in the fossil fuels driving climate change.

AIG is the largest insurer outside of China that doesn’t have a policy limiting its coverage of coal in some way, and it is among the rare players that can take the lead in conducting due diligence for new, multi-billion-dollar coal projects. But while the coal industry may need AIG, AIG doesn’t need coal: coal accounted for less than 1% of AIG’s 2019 premiums.

AIG is also among the world leaders in insuring oil and gas projects. It provides support for expansion across the supply chain, from the exploration of new reserves to oil pipelines and liquefied natural gas (LNG) export terminals.

AIG-insured projects are devastating to both the environment and Indigenous rights. The Trans Mountain pipeline in Canada and its proposed expansion—which would enable billions of additional barrels of dirty tar sands from what National Geographic calls the “world’s most destructive oil operation”—have faced staunch resistance from First Nations. The pipeline has had 85 spills to date, poisoning their lands and water. Zurich, HDI Global, and Munich Re dropped coverage of Trans Mountain this August, but AIG has refused to cut ties with the project.

All ten US insurers examined in Insure Our Future’s latest scorecard—including AIG—also scored negatively on “other climate leadership” because they actively support lobbyists who thwart action to address climate change. For its part, AIG supports the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, one of the most notorious climate-deniers and climate-policy-blockers on Earth.

The world’s top scientists have concluded that we only have 10 years to make steep cuts in fossil fuel combustion if we’re going to avoid the most devastating impacts of climate change. The planet cannot afford more oil pipelines and coal mines, and insurance companies are the lynchpin of the fossil fuel industry. It’s time for AIG and its cohorts to get  on the right side of history and support a transition to renewable energy.

We’re calling on AIG to:

  1. Stop insuring fossil fuel expansion immediately.
  2. Phase out insurance for fossil fuel companies in line with the goal of limiting global temperature rise to 1.5° C.
  3. Divest from fossil fuel companies that are not aligned with a 1.5° C future.
  4. Respect human rights, including the rights of Indigenous Peoples.

There’s still time for companies like AIG to act, to stop supporting fossil fuel extraction, to stop contributing to climate chaos. But the clock is ticking.

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