AIG pledge welcomed by climate groups

American International Group (AIG) has released a series of commitments which will see it cease underwriting a range of coal and energy risks.

Campaigners have described the statement by American International Group (AIG) as “a major step forward for people and the planet”.

AIG has published a series of company-wide climate commitments. These include pledges to no longer provide underwriting and investments in the construction of any new coal-fired power plants, thermal coal mines, or oil sands. Further, the company will stop providing insurance cover and investments in any new Arctic energy exploration.

In the announcement AIG committed to reach net zero greenhouse gas emissions across its underwriting and investment portfolios by 2050 and adopt science-based emissions reduction targets in line with the goals of the Paris Agreement. In the company’s statement, AIG also pledged to release more information about its phase-out of fossil fuels in the coming months and to provide transparent reporting of its progress.

AIG’s decision makes it the first U.S. insurer to rule out insurance for Arctic energy exploration, which campaigners say poses “grave threats to Indigenous rights and local ecosystems”. At least 12 insurers have restricted support for oil and gas drilling in the Arctic Refuge.

“As one of the last major insurers without restrictions on coal insurance, AIG’s new commitments to reduce underwriting for coal, tar sands oil, and Arctic oil and gas are a major step forward for people and the planet,” said Hannah Saggau, insurance campaigner with Public Citizen. “AIG has vaulted itself from a laggard in the industry to a leader in the US, and we look forward to working with it to meet and improve on these commitments.”

AIG and its CEO Peter Zaffino, have been the subject of a concerted year-long campaign by Public Citizen via direct actions, petition drives, policy advocacy, and behind the scenes pressure demanding the company stop supporting the fossil fuel expansion driving the climate crisis.

The group added: “This announcement marks the beginning of a new chapter ​in which the US insurance industry is no longer lagging behind its peers in the exit from coal. AIG joins over 37 companies that have committed to end or restrict insurance for new coal projects, including Travelers, which recently adopted a policy. ​Major insurers who have yet to put any restrictions on fossil fuel underwriting include Berkshire Hathaway, Everst Re, PICC, Sinosure and W.R. Berkely.​”

In Canada, in the most recently publicly available insurance certificate, AIG provided coverage for the Trans Mountain Pipeline, Public Citizen added. While the commitments released ruled out insurance for the construction of any new oil sands projects, it is not clear if this includes tar sands transport projects like the Trans Mountain expansion.

“As one of the remaining potential insurers of the Trans Mountain pipeline, AIG’s commitment to rule out insurance for some tar sands projects is a first step but not enough,” said Charlene Aleck, spokesperson for the Tsleil-Waututh Nation Sacred Trust Initiative. “The Trans Mountain pipeline violates Indigenous rights and threatens our land, water, and climate. With the cost ballooning to C$21.4 billion, and the need for more private investment, this pipeline is as risky as ever. AIG must wake up to the significant financial, reputational, and environmental risks of the highly polluting tar sands sector and explicitly rule out insurance for all new tar sands transport projects.”

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