Newly-released vote tallies demonstrate broad investor concern on fossil fuel underwriting and emissions reductions
Zurich, Switzerland // New York City, USA (May 24, 2022) – At the May 19 annual meeting of Chubb Limited (NYSE: CB), investors voted against the company’s management recommendations in large numbers when it came to climate resolutions, demonstrating that investors are increasingly concerned with Chubb’s contribution to the climate crisis.
Seventy two percent of shareholders voted against management 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 to achieve net zero emissions by 2050.
A second proposal filed by Green Century Capital Management called on Chubb to adopt a policy to ensure that it will not underwrite new fossil fuel supplies, in line with the findings outlined in the International Energy Agency’s Net Zero Roadmap. That proposal, which Chubb also opposed, received approximately 19 percent of the vote.
As Green Century President Leslie Samuelrich said in a press statement, the results signal that “…shareholders understand that insuring new fossil fuel development may be bad for business. We believe that underwriting more development of coal, oil and gas — products whose emissions drive climate change — while simultaneously collecting premiums from customers who seek protection from climate change, is fundamentally incompatible.”
Although it did not pass, the support for Green Century’s resolution sends a strong message, especially for a first-time resolution. In the U.S, a resolution requires more than 5 percent support to be re-filed for a second year, which this surpassed easily. Anything that receives 10 percent or more is considered difficult for a company to ignore.
“These results put the question of fossil fuel expansion firmly and irrevocably on the table for Chubb and all U.S. insurers,” said Elana Sulakshana, Senior Energy Finance Campaigner at Rainforest Action Network. “A critical mass of investors is demanding that Chubb stop supporting the rampant expansion of fossil fuels that is driving the climate crisis – and threatening their own portfolios. Investor pressure will only increase until Chubb takes action and curtails its underwriting of fossil fuel expansion.”
Both resolutions were publicly supported by the New York State Common Retirement Fund, the third largest pension fund in the country. The New York State Common Retirement Fund also voted for Green Century’s resolution on fossil fuel expansion at The Hartford and Travelers, although the resolution only received 8.8 percent of the vote at The Hartford last week. Results are still pending for Travelers, whose annual meeting is tomorrow, May 25.
Similar resolutions on fossil fuel expansion were filed at Wall Street banks this year and earned the support of major pension funds in New York, Texas, and Seattle. However, overall, these resolutions received less of the vote share than at Chubb, garnering 12.8%, 11%, and 11% of the vote at Citi, Bank of America, and Wells Fargo respectively.
In addition to these proposals, Chubb Directors faced scrutiny on climate oversight issues at the annual meeting. Shareholder advocacy firm Majority Action filed an exempt solicitation announcing its recommendation to institutional investors to vote against Chair, CEO and Chair of the Executive Committee Evan G. Greenberg and Chair of the Risk and Finance Committee Olivier Steimer. They cited that Greenberg and Steimer failing in their oversight responsibilities to address escalating physical and financial risks posed by climate change creates systemic unhedgeable risks to long-term investors.
Of the 13 directors up for a vote, Greenberg and Steimer were among the least supported, receiving 91.9 percent and 95.4 percent respectively. Anything below 95% is generally perceived as a sign of investor concern.
Furthermore, only 64.5 percent of investors voted for Greenberg to continue to serve as Chair of the Board. For Greenberg, this marks a historically low level of support for continuing to serve as both Chair and CEO of Chubb Limited.
“We are pleased to see climate, independent oversight, and board accountability take center stage at this year’s AGM at Chubb Limited. These results demonstrate that investors expect Chubb’s board to ensure the company has sufficient independent oversight and leadership to guide the company through the coming energy transition and to effectively mitigate the systemic and company-specific risks of climate change to investors,” said Eli Kasargod-Staub, Executive Director of Majority Action.
During the annual meeting last week, Chubb faced pressure in the streets, as well as in the boardroom. Activists with Campax gathered outside the Zurich-based meeting with banners, urging the executives inside to stop supporting fossil fuel expansion, and in NYC, a billboard truck called on CEO Evan Greenberg to take action in the face of the climate crisis. Read more about the actions and Chubb’s climate and human rights record here.