Action in Zurich Depicting Chubb CEO Greenberg Smearing the Planet with Fossil Fuels
Shareholders pass resolution for transparency on emissions reductions, but stop short of calling for an end to insuring fossil fuel expansion
Zurich, Switzerland (May 19, 2022) – This morning, Chubb Limited (NYSE: CB) faced unprecedented challenges from shareholders on climate change at its annual general meeting (AGM). Over 50% of investors voted in favor of a resolution filed by As You Sow asking Chubb to report on if and how it plans to measure, disclose, and reduce its emissions associated with underwriting and investment activities in alignment with the Paris Agreement’s 1.5ºC goal, requiring net zero emissions. Read As You Sow’s statement here.
Another resolution filed by Green Century Capital Management calling on the insurance giant to stop underwriting new fossil fuel supplies, in line with the International Energy Agency’s net zero roadmap, did not pass. However, the $279 billion NYS Common Retirement Fund, the third largest pension fund in the country, voted in favor of both proposals, reflecting the growing investor concern over the lack of meaningful climate action from insurers. Exact vote totals will be released in the coming days.
Today, a critical mass of investors affirmed that Chubb must decarbonize its underwriting and investment portfolios in line with net zero by 2050. However, Chubb and some of its major shareholders are refusing to make sound business decisions and act on what the science has made clear: to reach this net zero goal, insurers cannot underwrite any new fossil fuel supplies whatsoever,” said Elana Sulakshana, Senior Energy Finance Campaigner at Rainforest Action Network. “It’s a business problem that Chubb will insure fossil fuel projects that increase risk of loss from climate disasters but then drop clients that are suffering from those disasters – like what we’ve seen with the California wildfires.”
While the annual meeting took place at Chubb’s Zurich HQ, activists with Campax, gathered outside with banners, urging the executives inside to stop supporting fossil fuel expansion. In NYC, a billboard truck called on CEO Evan Greenberg to take action in the face of the climate crisis.
Chubb is lagging far behind European peers, like Allianz and Swiss Re, who are limiting support for new oil and gas projects. Insurance giants like Chubb have a responsibility to minimize their contribution to climate chaos and protect their shareholders from climate risk by ruling out insurance for fossil fuel expansion,” said Nora Scheel, Campaigner at Campax. “The pressure on Chubb to act is mounting from shareholders, elected officials, and environmental advocates around the world, and it will only grow if Chubb continues to choose greenwashing in the face of the climate crisis.
In the boardroom, Greenberg also faced scrutiny for failing in his climate oversight duties. Majority Action, a nonprofit shareholder advocacy organization, recommended that institutional investors vote against instating two Board Members: Greenberg, who is Chair, CEO and Chair of the Executive Committee, as well as Olivier Steimer, Chair of the Risk and Finance Committee.
Chubb’s Lagging Climate and Human Rights Record
Although Chubb was the first U.S. insurer to adopt a coal policy in 2019, the company now lags significantly behind its industry peers on concrete action to decarbonize its investment and underwriting portfolios. It is currently one of the top insurers of the oil and gas industry and has no formal policies in place to limit support for oil and gas projects or companies. By contrast, ten major insurers have policies restricting insurance for new oil and gas projects, and twelve other insurers have adopted restrictions on insuring oil and gas drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
It is very troubling that Chubb continues to dismiss Indigenous voices, especially when we have been reaching out to connect with them. Chubb has not responded or acknowledged any of our letters, addressed our concerns, or our presence in our own homelands. We will not allow any more people that look at our homelands with dollar signs to brush us aside. The Gwich’in Nation of Alaska and Canada, along with the millions of allies and supporters who continue to stand with us, will hold all who seek to destroy the calving grounds of the porcupine caribou herd responsible. Giving up is not an option, we will never agree to sell our culture or ways of life for any amount of money,” said Bernadette Demientieff, Executive Director of the Gwich’in Steering Committee.
While Chubb has stated that it does not insure tar sands projects, and according to its 2022 proxy statement, will not do so in the future, the company has refused to formalize that in a public-facing policy with clear definitions and details.
Chubb’s statement that it will not insure any tar sands projects in the future is yet another sign that insurers are feeling the reputational risks of the outdated and polluting tar sands sector, which threatens Indigenous rights and the climate. Tar sands extraction has contaminated our drinking water, polluted our air, and driven up rates of cancer in Indigenous communities ” said Melina Laboucan-Massimo, Senior Director for Indigenous Climate Action and Lubicon Cree from the Alberta tar sands. “As a next step, to further accelerate a just energy transition, I urge Chubb to swiftly and clearly define its tar sands commitments in a public-facing policy and expand the scope of its commitments to stop insuring all new oil and gas projects.”
Meanwhile, the ever-intensifying impacts of the climate crisis are driving up the cost of premiums to unaffordable levels, and insurers are withdrawing entirely from communities facing climate risk. For example, Chubb is dropping homeowners in regions of California that have been affected by climate change-driven wildfires, even as it continues to insure fossil fuel projects that increase risk of loss from wildfires.
In mid-April, activists staged a series of actions in San Francisco at the RIMS RISKWORLD conference, including a giant banner drop calling on Chubb to take action to protect communities from the harms of fossil fuels and climate change. Last September, activists in New York City erected a giant inflatable prop of Mr. Greenberg outside of the US Tennis Open, of which Chubb is a sponsor.
Statement from Insure Our Future, a U.S. campaign comprising environmental, consumer protection, and grassroots organizations holding the U.S. insurance industry accountable for its role in the climate crisis. It is part of the global Insure Our Future campaign, which promotes a rapid shift of the insurance industry away from supporting and financing fossil fuels to accelerating the transition to a clean energy economy. RAN is a key partner in this campaign.