February 8, 2022—Since 2019, 15 of the world’s major insurance companies have invested US $7.9 billion in companies conducting oil and gas drilling in the North Sea, which lies between the British Isles and mainland Europe. The research was conducted by Profundo and published by The Ferret.
U.S. companies AIG and Travelers were among the top insurance company investors, with AIG investing US $1.7 billion and Travelers investing $479 billion in 2021.
“AIG is not renewing coverage for more and more California homeowners at risk of climate-driven wildfires, all while the insurer continues to invest billions in companies with oil and gas expansion plans,” said Hannah Saggau, insurance campaigner with Public Citizen. “AIG’s CEO Peter Zaffino says he understands the risks of climate change, but his company continues to support the polluters that drive intensifying wildfires and other climate disasters. Zaffino’s climate hypocrisy is unacceptable.”
This issue has received renewed attention since the California moratorium on insurers canceling homeowner policies in wildfire-prone areas ended in December 2021. It has reached high profile homeowners such as Adam McKay, the director of blockbuster film and climate change allegory “Don’t Look Up”, who recently announced that his insurance carrier canceled his homeowner policy.
Just 10 insurers control about 70% of the global oil and gas insurance market. AIG, Travelers, Zurich, Allianz, Chubb and Liberty Mutual could together end more than half the underwriting of the industry. Yet, they continue to insure–and invest–in this climate-wrecking industry.
“Insurers’ investments of over 7.9 billion dollars in North Sea oil and gas companies reveals their staggering hypocrisy. Global insurers are excluding insurance or increasing premiums for households in climate change-affected areas, while simultaneously funding the oil and gas companies that are exacerbating the climate crisis. Insurance companies should not be investing in nor insuring fossil fuel companies that have oil and gas expansion plans or which do not have credible urgent transition plans,” said Lindsay Keenan, European Coordinator for Insure Our Future.
Major European insurers AXA, Allianz, and Aviva were also among the top 5 insurance company investors. Combined, they have invested US $4.7 billion in oil and gas companies with activities in the North Sea between 2019 and 2021.
“The top insurance funders of North Sea oil and gas – Allianz, Aviva and AXA – cannot continue to profit from climate destruction. Their real climate leadership lies in what they invest and underwrite, not in their climate alliances and rhetoric. AXA, Allianz and Aviva are major investors in the oil and gas companies that operate, or plan to operate, in the North Sea. New oil and gas production is completely incompatible with a 1.5C pathway, and movement away from this climate wrecking industry needs to accelerate beyond the current baby steps,” said Regine Richter, Energy & Finance Campaigner at German NGO Urgewald.
Insure Our Future in the U.S. is a campaign comprising environmental, consumer protection, and grassroots organizations holding the U.S. insurance industry accountable for its role in the climate crisis. We are part of the global Insure Our Future campaign, which calls on insurance companies to immediately stop insuring new fossil fuels and phase out support for existing coal, oil and gas projects.