Pop-up action in New York City exposes Evan Greenberg’s climate hypocrisy
October 27, 2022 (NYC, USA) – This morning, climate activists built a two-story mock oil derrick outside the NYC home of Chubb CEO Evan Greenberg to spotlight the insurance giant’s destructive climate and human rights record. The derrick read “Oil Drilling Insured by Chubb,” in reference to Chubb’s status as a top fossil fuel insurer and the many oil and gas expansion projects that the company is backing globally.
“As one of the world’s largest oil and gas insurers, Chubb has its fingers in destructive oil and gas projects from the Arctic to Brazil,” said Hannah Saggau, insurance campaigner at Public Citizen. “CEO Evan Greenberg claims that Chubb is a steward of the Earth, but that is just greenwashing if he continues to direct his company to support the expansion of coal, oil, and gas infrastructure that pollutes communities, violates Indigenous rights, and locks in decades of carbon emissions that our climate cannot afford.”
After building the oil derrick prop, activists delivered a petition with more than 50,000 signatories, urging CEO Greenberg to stop insuring oil and gas expansion and respect human rights. More than three dozen people gathered outside the iconic Dakota Apartments building on the Upper West Side to echo the demands of the petition, with youth climate leaders and fossil fuel campaigners speaking about why they were there. Activists also passed out flyers to passersby and CEO Greenberg’s neighbors.
The action, which was organized by Rainforest Action Network, Public Citizen, No North Brooklyn Pipeline, 350NYC, NY Communities for Change, Rise and Resist NYC, Catskill Mountainkeepers, and other organizations, comes on the heels of a damning new report. According to Insure Our Future’s sixth annual Scorecard on Insurance, Fossil Fuels, and the Climate Emergency released last week, Chubb’s fossil fuel policies earned just 0.5 out of 10 points, ranking near the bottom of the 30 companies evaluated.
Although Chubb was the first US company to announce a coal policy in 2019, it is now lagging behind global and US peers, with zero official policies on oil and gas. In fact, Chubb is doubling down on its fossil fuel business. In June, Mr. Greenberg publicly rebuffed Chubb’s investors, who issued a clear mandate for climate action, and said that Chubb would continue to insure “sustainable” oil and gas expansion projects and would not commit to setting a long-term emissions reductions goal.
“Oil and gas expansion results in poisoned air, polluted water, and a wrecked climate,” said Mary Lovell, Insurance Campaign Coordinator with Rainforest Action Network. “Indigenous leaders, climate activists, and investors are all urging Chubb to stop insuring new fossil fuel projects. But instead of heeding their call and adopting strong climate policies, Chubb is ignoring communities and its own shareholders. We are here today to demand immediate, concrete action to ensure the health and safety of frontline communities.”
Today’s action is just two days before the ten-year anniversary of Hurricane Sandy striking NYC and the surrounding region. The superstorm’s devastating floods ravaged homes, communities, and entire towns along the coast, and the rebuilding process is still ongoing today.
The 2012 storm actually resulted in Chubb posting its largest loss to date from a natural disaster ever. Since then, the insurance industry has faced mounting costs from climate-related natural disasters. Chubb has even started to withdraw from areas that are deemed too high risk, such as wildfire-affected counties in California. However, in a striking act of hypocrisy, it continues to support the polluting industries that are fueling these more intense and frequent weather events.
“Chubb claims to champion racial equity by making donations to civil rights organizations serving the very same populations they help to pollute. We don’t live in a vacuum. It is past time insurers stop backing fossil fuel projects driving systemic climate and environmental racism,” said Kier, a disruptive strategist and environmental justice organizer with Start:Empowerment, who was one of the speakers at the action. “For example, Chubb has previously insured National Grid, which built a massive high pressure fracked gas pipeline just under two miles from my home in Brooklyn without community consent, threatening the health and safety of nearly 153,000 people.”
Chubb has come under fire for its links to controversial oil and gas projects and sectors globally as well. After facing pressure for insuring the Trans Mountain pipeline, the company said that it had cut ties with all sands projects, but it has refused to formalize the announcement in a public-facing policy with clear definitions and details. Right now, activists in Uganda and Tanzania are calling on Chubb to rule out support for the East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP), which would be the longest heated crude oil pipeline in the world if constructed and has already displaced thousands of people.
Documents have also linked Chubb to exploratory oil and gas drilling on the coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, and the Gwich’in Steering Committee has repeatedly called on the company to rule out any additional support for extraction in the Refuge. Unlike 17 global insurers, Chubb has failed to do so.
“Chubb has continued to disregard our letters and dismiss our concerns and presence in our own homelands. We stand united against anyone who encourages the destruction of our ways of life, which interconnects the land, the water, and the animals. We will not allow any more people who look at our ancestral lands and see dollar signs to brush us aside. The Gwich’in Nation of Alaska and Canada, along with millions of allies and supporters, will hold all those who seek to disrupt or destroy the calving grounds of the porcupine caribou herd responsible and expose how they are putting profit before people,” said Bernadette Demientieff, Executive Director of the Gwich’in Steering Committee.