May 18, 2022 (Hartford, CT): Today, The Hartford insurance company (NYSE: HIG) faced an unprecedented challenge from shareholders in a resolution filed by Green Century Capital Management calling on the insurance giant to stop underwriting new fossil fuel supplies. The resolution did not pass, but is a signal of growing investor concern over climate risk. Notably, the resolution was supported by the $279 billion New York State Common Retirement Fund. Most of the Q&A section of the meeting was spent discussing climate change, indicating clear concern about the insurer’s unchecked support for fossil fuels.
Investors failed to pass the resolution despite increasing scrutiny of insurers from elected officials, Indigenous communities, environmental, health, and human rights advocates, and even industry employees who have called on insurers, including The Hartford, to address their contribution and vulnerabilities to climate change.
“The Hartford has claimed to be a leader on addressing climate change and has been able to garner significant attention for this. Their opposition to the Green Century resolution makes it clear that the company’s net-zero pledge isn’t much more than a greenwash. The Hartford’s empty promises and excuses as to why they are not taking climate change seriously is unacceptable and we will continue to hold them accountable until they do the right thing for the planet and every living thing that depends on its health.
The outcome ignores the latest warnings from the IPCC report, which stated in April 2022 that “insurance payouts for catastrophes have increased significantly over the last 10 years” and that “this trend is expected to continue.” Last year, the International Energy Agency’s landmark Net Zero by 2050 report concluded that, in order to avoid a climate catastrophe, there must be no investment in new fossil fuel supply projects.