From Russia to Brazil, Chubb is Insuring Deadly Oil and Gas Expansion

RAN and partners are ramping up the campaign demanding Chubb CEO Evan Greenberg take concrete action for the climate and communities around the world.

By Elana Sulakshana

Without insurance, no new polluting energy project can be built, or even financed. Chubb, an insurance giant based in NYC, is one of the biggest providers of these insurance policies, underwriting the risks of digging new coal mines, building tar sands pipelines, and expanding oil and gas drilling in sensitive ecosystems across the world.

Chubb CEO Evan Greenberg talks a big game on climate change, but those words ring hollow when examining his company’s business practices. Chubb insures fossil fuel infrastructure in Russia that is bankrolling Putin’s war on Ukraine, oil and gas extraction off the coast of Brazil, exploratory drilling in the Arctic, and other fossil fuel projects globally. 

In the lead-up to Chubb’s May 2022 annual general meeting, we are joining calls led by Chubb’s shareholders and urging the company to rule out insuring deadly fossil fuel expansion. This spring, Chubb has the opportunity to choose a side of history: to stop supporting fossil fuel projects that pollute our air and water and violate human rights, or to continue enabling them.

Photo by George Day

Chubb CEO Evan Greenberg’s words vs. Chubb’s actions

Sixteen years ago, Greenberg was sounding the alarm on climate change. At a conference in 2006, he stated “no greater problem confronts mankind than global warming.” A decade-plus later, Chubb became the first U.S. company to adopt restrictions on insuring coal in 2019, and Greenberg again affirmed his commitment to tackling climate change, proclaiming that the policy reflected “Chubb’s commitment to do our part as a steward of the Earth.”

However, despite this rhetoric and its initial action as a leader in the U.S. insurance industry, Chubb is now lagging behind insurance peers when it comes to climate action. Chubb has ignored many requests to meet from Indigenous leaders and frontline communities impacted by its insurance and investment practices, and it has not adopted a single new policy limiting support for fossil fuels since 2019. 

U.S. peers are ruling out support for tar sands and Arctic drilling; European and Australian insurers are taking concrete steps to limit oil and gas expansion. Chubb has gone quiet. The one area where the company has been vocal is on limiting its exposure to communities on the frontlines of the climate crisis. Chubb has pulled back sharply on its homeowner insurance offerings across California, in recognition of the risks posed by climate-fueled wildfires.

Chubb’s climate hypocrisy is striking 

At the same time as it is abandoning customers in California, Chubb continues to underwrite new oil and gas extraction projects that fuel more powerful and frequent wildfires and other natural disasters:

  1. Chubb is insuring oil and gas extraction and transport in Russia, fueling Russia’s war on Ukraine. In fact, Chubb called Russian oil and gas “one of the most promising activities” of its Russian operations. The insurer was recently backing Nord Stream 2, a massive, controversial natural gas pipeline built by Gazprom, the world’s largest producer of gas and a majority Russian state-owned fossil fuel company (which also happens to be funded by JPMorgan Chase). Following the horrific invasion of Ukraine, RAN joined more than 75 global organizations in sending a letter to Chubb and other financial institutions last week, urging them to end the financing, investing, and insuring of companies in Russia’s coal, oil, and gas industries, and to divest from existing holdings. Bankrolled by oil and gas profits, Russia’s war on Ukraine is yet another example of how fossil fuel extraction is linked to authoritarianism, violence, and war around the globe.
  2. Chubb is a top insurer of offshore oil and gas drilling in Brazil, which is slated to expand oil production by up to 70% over the next decade. Chubb is one of the biggest insurers of Petrobras, Brazil’s state-owned energy company, which extracts around 93% of the country’s oil and gas. Oil exploration off the coast of Brazil occurs in some of the world’s most sensitive ecological sites around the Great Amazon Reef and threatens both global climate stability and local ecosystems and coastal communities. 
  3. Chubb has refused to rule out insurance coverage for oil and gas drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. The Gwich’in Steering Committee has called on Chubb and other global insurers to protect the Refuge from the harms of fossil fuel development. Unlike big Wall Street banks and at least 14 insurers, including AIG, Chubb is still open to insuring projects in this protected wildlife area, which threatens the lands and lifeways of the Gwich’in people. We have even found evidence that Chubb is insuring seismic testing in the Arctic, which is conducted to determine the location of oil and gas reserves. 
  4. While Chubb claimed it was not backing tar sands projects in 2021, it has refused to turn that statement into a clear, public-facing policy. The tar sands sector poses grave risks to Indigenous rights, local ecosystems, and the climate. Chubb was a top insurer of the Trans Mountain tar sands pipeline as of 2020. Following a steady drumbeat of pressure from Indigenous groups, grassroots activists, and insurance campaigners all over the world, Chubb announced that it was no longer insuring tar sands projects in September 2021. However, Chubb has refused to turn that announcement into a clear, public-facing policy. This means that Chubb may be insuring tar sands projects again and is at risk of doing so moving forward. We applaud Chubb for dropping Trans Mountain, but now we need to demand that it adopt policies to never insure such a destructive project again.

Join the Chubb campaign

We are taking action to call out Greenberg’s hypocrisy and reject his greenwashing. We demand real action to ensure the health and safety of frontline communities and our collective futures, and we are taking those demands straight to the CEO and other top executives. 

With your help, we are aiming to mail over 5,000 of the postcards below to the literal doorsteps of Chubb executives. April 1 is Chubb CEO Evan Greenberg’s birthday, and on his special day, we hope to make clear that this growing movement is calling on him to stop insuring fossil fuel expansion and respect human rights. We will also be sending similar messages to nine other top decision-makers at the company. 

Can you join us in making clear that Chubb has a choice to make this spring: to keep insuring fossil fuel expansion, or to ensure a livable planet for all?