Insurance CEOs met with protests as summit continues

The CEOs of some of the world’s biggest insurers have been met by climate protestors in Switzerland today as they discuss the future of the industry and its approach to the world’s transition to net zero energy productions.

Insure Our Future campaigners are protesting at the Geneva Association’s 50th anniversary summit in Zurich, demanding that the global insurance industry take immediate action to slow the climate crisis and support the urgent transition from fossil fuels to renewables.

The Geneva Association’s membership  include the CEOs of 78 global insurance and reinsurance companies.

Insure our Future said that membership contains “the top insurers of fossil fuels globally, such as John Neal (Lloyd’s of London), Peter Zaffino (AIG) and Mario Greco (Zurich)”. “Together, its members have over $500 billion invested in some combination of oil, gas, coal, utilities and related activities,” it added. “Campaigners are calling on these heads of industry to stop investing in fossil fuel companies; to stop insuring new fossil fuel projects and to phase down their existing insurances in fossil fuel projects and companies, in line with pathways targeting 1.5C.”

The CEOs and other senior insurance industry figures attending the two-day 50th anniversary summit are being confronted by a series of creative protests by activists, including banners stating: “50 years of insuring climate failure”; a large burning birthday cake, dripping with oil; posters displaying images of climate catastrophes and naming CEOs of some the largest fossil fuel insurers as accomplices in climate crimes.

Nora Scheel, campaigns manager for Campax, said: “This event is a clear attempt at greenwashing on the eve of the Cop28 climate summit, when we urgently need clear leadership and decisive steps to move away from fossil fuel usage and lower greenhouse gas emissions, in-line with the Paris Agreement. If the insurance industry continues to underwrite fossil fuel expansion the world will be uninsurable and unrecognisable within 50 years.”

A handful of campaigners from Insure Our Future have been allowed entry to the event and will represent their demands directly to the CEOs, whilst many other civil society groups requests to attend were rejected.

The keynote speech by MAPFRE CEO, Antonio Huertas Mejías, on the topic “Insuring the Future- Safeguarding the Planet”  has been described by protestors as set to be either “a major milestone in climate policy or in greenwashing”.

They added MAPFRE’s stated policy is to not insure coal, gas and oil companies which do not commit to an energy transition plan that allows global warming to be maintained at around 1.5C. However, they said it is known to insure oil majors including Repsol and Petroperu.

Lindsay Keenan, European coordinator of Insure Our Future, who is one of those who have been allowed into the event said: “Putting climate on the agenda for discussion is not enough, it is serious action that is urgently required. The science is clear and insurers have known it now for several decades.  Insurance industry CEOs should immediately adopt policies for their companies to stop insuring fossil fuel expansion and stop investing in fossil fuels. Our collective future depends on it.”

The CEOs and other senior insurance industry figures attending the two-day 50th anniversary summit are being confronted by a series of creative protests by activists, including banners stating: “50 years of insuring climate failure”; a large burning birthday cake, dripping with oil; posters displaying images of climate catastrophes and naming CEOs of some the largest fossil fuel insurers as accomplices in climate crimes.

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