Insurance Industry Pulling Plug on Fossil Fuels

February 1, 2021

Nothing happens in the Economy without insurance.
Could the insurance industry be a driver of climate action?
More on this in upcoming Yale Climate Connections vid, stay tuned.

Property Casualty 360:

Both Zurich Insurance Group and AXIS Captial recently announced their intentions to cease insurance coverage for controversial oil and gas projects as the insurance industry continues on a rapid trend towards climate-friendly policies.

In a letter to the Gwich’in Steering Committee, AXIS declared that it would not provide coverage or investment support for projects related to exploration, drilling, or oil or gas production in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, becoming the first North American insurer to make such a commitment. AXIS also became the first U.S. insurer to restrict coverage for coal and tar sands projects in Oct. 2019.

According to Bloomberg, Zurich will stop providing insurance services to the Nord Stream 2 (NS2) gas pipeline, which would transport natural gas from Russia to Germany. The Swiss insurer is the third insurance company to cut ties with the NS2. Most recently, the European Parliament demanded construction to stop on the NS2 on Jan. 21 in response to Russia arresting Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny. The NS2 also faced U.S. sanctions in 2019, with further sanctions expected with the new Biden administration.

Insurers are increasingly recognizing the financial and reputational risks of underwriting fossil fuel projects. According to The Sunrise Project, a total of 26 global insurance companies have ended or limited coverage for coal projects, with many also moving to restrict services in the oil and gas sectors.

AXA XL and Swiss Re pledged not to support projects contributing to Arctic Refuge destruction last year. In July 2020, German insurer Talanx dropped its coverage of Canada’s controversial Trans Mountain pipeline, which has a history of causing major environmental and public health hazards.

Grand Forks Herald (North Dakota):

Insurance premiums that coal plants and mines pay for property and casualty insurance have risen anywhere from 20% to 100%, and the number of major insurance companies willing to cover the industry has dwindled to five or 10.

BISMARCK — A growing movement on Wall Street to shun investments in fossil fuels because of climate concerns is driving up insurance costs and sparking alarm in North Dakota coal country.

Leaders of the North Dakota Lignite Energy Council, which represents coal-fired power plants and lignite coal mines in the state, said they view the so-called “environmental, social and governance” movement within finance and insurance to be the industry’s most pressing threat.

“It’s now gotten to be the No. 1 issue that our members face,” Jonathan Fortner, the council’s vice president for government relations and external affairs, said Thursday, Jan. 14.

Premiums that coal plants and mines pay for property and casualty insurance have risen anywhere from 20% to 100%, he said, and the number of major insurance companies willing to cover the industry has dwindled to five or 10.

“This is millions of dollars in additional costs for the plants and mines in North Dakota,” Fortner said

North Dakota has seven coal-fired power plants, a coal gasification plant and mines that supply them in Oliver, Mercer and McLean counties west of Bismarck-Mandan, generating $130 million in annual tax revenue for the state, according to the industry.

Coal, oil and gas combined provide more than half of the revenue for the state’s general fund budget, Fortner said. The corporate ESG movement in finance and insurance also could result in higher prices that North Dakota consumers pay for electricity generated by coal-fired plants, according to the industry.

Lignite industry representatives are working on proposed legislation to try to bar what they regard as discrimination against coal plants and mines that is not based on real insurance risks.

“Is there a response that the state can help with?” said Jason Bohrer, the Lignite Energy Council’s president and CEO, acknowledging that it’s not yet clear, although states primarily regulate insurance.

“We’re hoping there are some things we can do,” he said. “This is a significant threat. We know the problem is real. This ESG movement is going to cause problems for the industry.”

3 Responses to “Insurance Industry Pulling Plug on Fossil Fuels”


  1. Reblogged this on The Most Revolutionary Act and commented:
    Both Zurich Insurance Group and AXIS Captial recently announced their intentions to cease insurance coverage for controversial oil and gas projects as the insurance industry continues on a rapid trend towards climate-friendly policies.

  2. mohandeer Says:

    “Most recently, the European Parliament demanded construction to stop on the NS2 on Jan. 21 in response to Russia arresting Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny. The NS2 also faced U.S. sanctions in 2019, with further sanctions expected with the new Biden administration….”
    So if an American citizen skips bail as Navalny did then re-enters the US, the EU is required to sanction the US if the bail jumper is arrested and forced to serve jail time?
    The EU needs to think long and hard about interfering in other countries justice systems, especially when their hypocrisy is directed against the one country who can supply them with oil and gas at half the price of the US. Perhaps if they weren’t such sycophants and rabidly bigoted liars they might actually help the world and it’s peoples.
    “…Lignite industry representatives are working on proposed legislation to try to bar what they regard as discrimination against coal plants and mines that is not based on real insurance risks….”
    If destroying the planet is not considered a real insurance risk, then what is? The countries who got rich quickly like the US and EU countries using fossil fuels, now want to stop other countries from doing the same. It is exactly for this reason that many scientists would not sign up against Climate Change actions, precisely because they knew it would be applied grossly unfairly against countries still trying to catch up with the rich countries. It’s time those countries who enriched themselves on the back of fossil fuels paid the price for the damage they have caused, the US being the biggest culprit with the UK/EU and Saudi Arabia right behind them. If the EU wants to stop NS2 then it must also ban all fossil fuels exports from the aforementioned countries or give a true reason why, not some trumped up lame excuse.
    Every country that is rich enough should be required to use their accumulated wealth to fund alternative energy supplies or face sanctions.
    “….Both Zurich Insurance Group and AXIS Capital recently announced their intentions to cease insurance coverage for controversial oil and gas projects as the insurance industry continues on a rapid trend towards climate-friendly policies.
    In a letter to the Gwich’in Steering Committee, AXIS declared that it would not provide coverage or investment support for projects related to exploration, drilling, or oil or gas production in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, becoming the first North American insurer to make such a commitment. AXIS also became the first U.S. insurer to restrict coverage for coal and tar sands projects in Oct. 2019….”
    This is a step in the right direction and I hope that other corporate insurance companies follow this example.

    • rhymeswithgoalie Says:

      So if an American citizen skips bail as Navalny did then re-enters the US, the EU is required to sanction the US if the bail jumper is arrested and forced to serve jail time?

      If that American citizen had been poisoned with an American military nerve agent and had to be taken overseas for treatment, then voluntarily chose to return to the United States (still suffering the effects of the nerve agent), at which point he’s arrested and tried in secret in a makeshift courtroom in the local police station, I would hope the EU would sanction the US.

      (For that matter, I wish the EU had sanctioned the US for its torture and extraordinary rendition policies in its neocon frenzy after the 9/11 attacks.)

      By the way, your English is very good.


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