Chubb, Travelers, and The Hartford have filed no-action requests in response to shareholder resolutions asking them to adopt climate policies
February 16, 2022—Green Century Capital Management has filed resolutions calling on insurers Chubb, Travelers, and The Hartford to stop underwriting new fossil fuel projects. All three have filed no-action requests with the SEC. These resolutions represent the first time that shareholders have made a broad challenge to the insurance industry for its contributions to the climate crisis.
“Investors are demanding that insurance companies stop supporting the rampant expansion of fossil fuels that is driving the climate crisis. They are part of a growing shareholder movement calling on companies to align their business with a 1.5ºC pathway. But instead of taking concrete action to limit fossil fuel insuring and investing, Chubb, Travelers, and The Hartford are trying to silence their shareholders and continue business as usual,” said Elana Sulakshana, Senior Energy Campaigner at Rainforest Action Network.
The resolutions filed by Green Century, which are part of a larger wave of shareholder activism against both fossil fuels companies and their financial backers, call on each company’s board of directors to “adopt and disclose new policies to help ensure that its underwriting practices do not support new fossil fuel supplies, in alignment with the International Energy Agency (IEA)’s Net Zero Emissions by 2050 Scenario.” The IEA has concluded that there is no room for any fossil fuel expansion if we are to avoid climate catastrophe.
In its no-action request, Chubb pointed to its policy restricting insurance for new coal projects. But Chubb remains one of the world’s largest insurers of oil and gas expansion. For example, it’s backing a massive expansion of offshore oil drilling in Brazil. At the same time, Chubb is dropping clients in regions of California that have been affected by climate change-driven wildfires. Travelers and The Hartford have coal and tar sands exclusion policies, but also remain among the world’s top fossil fuel insurers.
Investor attention to the role of insurers in climate change has increased significantly in recent years, in part due to rising insured costs related to climate change. Natural disasters cost insurers US$105 billion in 2021, the fourth highest loss since 1970. Investment bank Societe Generale found that exiting coal can add billions to the value of insurers’ stock, and that exiting oil and gas could provide an additional “green premium.” Continuing to insure coal has even been flagged by some investors as a red line: the UK’s largest asset manager, Legal & General, divested from AIG in June 2021 because it continues to underwrite coal.
In addition to fighting the resolutions on fossil fuel expansion, Chubb and Travelers have also challenged resolutions filed by the shareholder advocacy firm As You Sow that request a plan for emissions reductions in line with a net-zero pathway.
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.