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Connecticut Climate Activists Rally at Travelers Shareholder Meeting

Hartford, CT — Today, Connecticut climate activists returned to the Travelers Annual Shareholder meeting to demand the company take real action on climate change and human rights. Activists from Connecticut Citizen Action Group (CCAG) and Third Act CT circled the Marriott Hotel in Downtown Hartford, while inside, activist shareholders engaged with management on the dangers posed by fossil fuels to both the planet and to Travelers bottom line.

Advocates called this meeting “an opportune moment” for the board and investors to show shareholders they are serious about the long term health of the company, and show employees and future talent that they are serious about climate and human rights.

Reverend Nancy Wright

Third Act CT

“We should not give the problem of a degraded environment to our country’s youth. Rather, elders have the wisdom and the potential power to work on environmental justice issues: pollution of air and water, climate weirding, extinction of species, and toxic wastes. We call on banks and insurance companies to adopt policies that would end their underwriting and investing in current and future fossil fuel projects.”

Three resolutions were filed by investors that pertained to a Report on Methane in the Energy Sector, Greenhouse Gas Emissions Human Rights Risks in underwriting.

One resolution being voted on asks Travelers to publish a report describing how human rights risks and impacts are evaluated and incorporated into the underwriting process, with a particular focus on FPIC. The resolution states that the Gwich’in people native to Alaska and Canada have engaged Travelers since 2020, asking that Travelers commit to not insuring oil and gas activities in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

Bernadette Demientieff

Executive Director of the Gwich’in Steering Committee

“Climate change is warming the Arctic at a rate four times faster than the rest of the world, and it is imperative that corporations begin to prioritize human rights and ecological well-being over short-term economic interests. Travelers' involvement in industries like oil and gas poses significant risks, particularly to Indigenous Peoples like the Gwich'in who depend on the Arctic Refuge for our way of life. We want Travelers to respect the rights of the Gwich’in and protect the Arctic Refuge, so that we can continue to live and thrive off the land Creator blessed us with. The Gwich’in will not allow the destruction of our homelands. We will always protect our ways of life.”

Shareholders from Third Act and CCAG reported back after the meeting that they were able to ask three questions about Travelers climate policies during the meeting.

Questions from the shareholders were asked as follows:

  1. “Last year we reported significant weather related losses and experts are predicting extremely damaging weather events this year.  At the same time we rank toward the bottom of insurers globally in adopting policies limiting our ties to the fossil fuel industry and the most recent publicly available data says that we have hundreds of millions of dollars invested in the fossil fuel industry. weam worried that our continued underwriting and investment policies will lead to shareholder lawsuits. How can you assure us that we will not be at risk of such suits?
  2. Three insurance commissioners from the West Coast recently released a report stating that insurers are underestimating our risk related to climate change. This seems like it would open us up to litigation if we do not take aggressive action to prevent further climate change.  What are we doing to limit our exposure here?
  3. Yesterday the NY Times reported that homeowners insurance was unprofitable in 18 states last year, up from eight in 2013. In other states, like Connecticut, profitability has declined over time. These trends are not representative of a healthy industry. In how many localities have we stopped offering new policies, how many policies have we not renewed due to potential risks, and what percentage of our homeowner policies might be facing double digit rate increases? 

Shareholders reported that the CEO, Alan Schnitzer, was defensive and failed to address the underlying issues in his responses.  

Advocates also handed out information to Travelers employees before the meeting that covered the importance of Travelers taking action in order to continue to recruit talent for their company.

Just recently, University of Hartford student Joanna Mallary launched a Connecticut student petition demanding Travelers and The Hartford end their support of fossil fuels. Hundreds of students from Connecticut universities signed the petition, committing not to work for these companies until they divest from and stop underwriting new fossil fuel projects. 

Joanna Mallary

University of Hartford student

“Travelers recruits heavily on our campuses and their continued support of the fossil fuel industry as well as lack of action on lowering emissions of its insured is going to seriously hamper their ability to attract talent. Our generation does not want to work for companies who are sacrificing our livable future for short term gains.”

The message from students is clear. In the petition, the signatories write, “It is our view that insurers, as society’s risk managers, should fulfill their potential to accelerate the transition to a decarbonized economy that will reduce greenhouse gas emissions rather than continuing to fuel the climate crisis by underwriting fossil fuels.” 

Media contacts:

Helen Humphrey
Connecticut Citizen Action Group

Tyler Kruse
Insure Our Future

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