Climate groups welcome German insurer’s fossil fuel pledge

A climate group has written to the new CEO of Scor to ask for new pledges on the coverage of fossil fuels as German insurance giant Talanx, adopted new restrictions on oil and gas.

The underwriter said  it would no longer insure new oil and gas fields from 1 July. New oil power plants and new infrastructure directly associated with new oil fields will also be excluded.

It came as Reclaim Finance and partners have delivered an open letter to the new CEO of Scor, Thierry Léger, urging him to increase the group’s climate ambition ahead of the AGM on 25 May.

Talanx is the 15th major insurer to adopt restrictions on conventional oil and gas.

Lindsay Keenan, European coordinator of the Insure Our Future campaign, said: “These commitments by Talanx Group are welcome and demonstrate continued momentum by major insurers to stop insuring new oil and gas fields. It is now the turn of other insurers including SCOR, Travelers and the Lloyd’s of London insurance market, to announce even stricter oil and gas exclusions at their forthcoming AGMs later this month.”

The group added Talanx’s new policy, along with the oil and gas restrictions which US insurer Chubb announced in March, demonstrates that in spite of the anti-ESG crusade of US climate deniers, the shift of insurers away from oil and gas continues and is in the industry’s best long-term interest.

The policy does not however exclude new gas infrastructure and new gas-fired power plants. Additionally, an exemption to the policy is possible for new gas fields in countries with a high proportion of coal in the energy mix and insufficient access to renewable energies.

Anna Lena Samborski, insurance campaigner at the environmental and human rights organisation Urgewald, said: “Talanx’s new fossil fuel policy shows insurance companies begin to embrace the demands of climate science – even independent of membership in the Net Zero Insurance Alliance. Overall, however, the industry is not going far enough. The elephant in the room is gas infrastructure, in particular. Insurers are not yet adequately addressing that  aspect in their policies and all insurers urgently need to make improvements in this area.”

Anusha Narayanan, Global Project Lead against fossil fuel expansion, Greenpeace US, said: “The exclusion of new gas fields indicates Talanx general recognition of gas as a climate killer, but its refusal to address new gas infrastructure should not be tolerated. LNG Terminals can lead to worse emissions than coal and lock us into unnecessary contracts for decades that poison frontline communities and drive global climate change. Gas expansion can also doom countries like South Africa to switch from one climate killer to another.”

IN its letter Reclaim Finance said although Scor introduced a policy excluding coal and coal-fired power plants in 2017, the group continues to support the expansion of oil and gas, including new LNG infrastructure – lagging behind competitors such as Munich Re and Swiss Re who have announced exclusion policies for some oil and gas activities.

Léger, who joined Scor from Swiss Re has previously been actively involved in the Net-Zero Insurance Alliance and was involved in implementing Swiss Re’s oil and gas company.

Reclaim Finance said it is urging insurers not to provide cover for new fossil fuel projects to align with the International Energy Agency’s net zero emissions scenario which says that to stay within a 1.5 degree trajectory, no new oil and gas projects are needed.