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SEC Rejects Shareholder Resolution Demanding Chubb Curb Insurance for Fossil Fuel Expansion

But Chubb proxy will include resolutions on emissions reductions and human rights reporting

March 29, 2023 (Washington, D.C.) – Yesterday afternoon, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) shared that it had rejected a shareholder resolution filed at Chubb calling on the insurer to adopt a time-bound phase out of underwriting new coal, oil, and gas projects in order to limit global warming to 1.5ºC.

At the same time, the SEC dismissed Chubb’s challenges to two other resolutions, and so investors will still have the opportunity to voice their concerns about Chubb’s exposure to climate and human rights risks:

  • As You Sow re-filed a proposal that requires Chubb to report on its plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions associated with underwriting and investing, after earning nearly 72% of the vote last year with a similar resolution.
  • Domini Impact Investment filed a first-time proposal that calls on Chubb to issue a report on how it evaluates human rights risks and impacts in underwriting decisions, including the extent to which Free, Prior and Informed Consent is considered.

Green Century Funds filed the fossil fuel expansion proposal at Chubb, The Hartford, and Travelers for the second year in a row; last year, it earned enough support at all three companies to be re-filed, including 19% of the vote share at Chubb. Chubb was the only insurer to challenge the resolution with the SEC in 2023, and so versions of the proposal will be on the proxy ballots at The Hartford and Travelers’ annual meetings this May.

In advance of its annual meeting, investor and community pressure is already having an impact on Chubb’s climate commitments. Last week, Chubb became the first U.S. insurer to adopt restrictions on underwriting oil and gas, ruling out support for oil and gas extraction on protected lands and requiring oil and gas producing clients to reduce methane emissions.

While the new standards represent a major step forward, they fall short of what shareholder advocates have been calling for, given that they only apply to some new oil and gas fields and do not include plans to reduce insurance-associated emissions across all sectors. In addition, Chubb has not disclosed any frameworks for human rights due diligence in the underwriting process, including verification that clients have obtained Free, Prior, and Informed Consent for projects that impact Indigenous lands and territories.

Elana Sulakshana

Senior Energy Finance Campaigner at Rainforest Action Network

“In a disappointing decision, the SEC has aligned with Chubb in silencing shareholders that are concerned about the enormous risks that Chubb’s support of new fossil fuel projects poses to communities, the economy, and the company's own shareholders. Although Chubb took a major step forward this month with its new oil and gas underwriting standards, it remains a top global fossil fuel insurer and is still enabling the expansion of polluting energy projects in many geographies around the world.

Despite the fact that the fossil fuel expansion resolution will not be on Chubb’s proxy ballot, a growing movement of investors, communities, and activists will continue to call out the gaps in Chubb’s climate policies and push for strengthened restrictions on fossil fuels. Furthermore, shareholders will have the opportunity to urge Chubb to report on emissions reductions plans and human rights risks this spring given the SEC’s approval of those two critical proposals.”

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