Insuring a safe climate?
Just like the big banks, general insurance companies play a pivotal role in enabling fossil fuel projects. Two of Australia’s big three insurers, QBE and Suncorp, provide the insurance that allows big fossil fuel projects to get off the ground and continue operating. Along with the other major Australian insurer, IAG, these companies also invest in the fossil fuel industry through their considerable share portfolios.
IAG and Suncorp market themselves under various brands including:
- IAG: NRMA, RACV, CGU, SGIO
- Suncorp: AAMI, GIO, APIA, Just Car
Australia’s big insurance companies are making extreme payouts on extreme weather, but are still invested in the fossil fuel industry that is making climate change worse.
We’re calling on Australia’s major general insurers, IAG, QBE and Suncorp, to:
- Rule out underwriting any further coal, oil and gas extraction, transportation and infrastructure projects;*
- Divest from fossil fuel assets in its investment portfolio;
- Advocate publicly and actively for policies that will rapidly reduce carbon emissions and phase out fossil fuel use; and
- Educate customers about the effects of climate change on premiums, and participate in risk mitigation measures.
*QBE and Suncorp only – IAG doesn’t underwrite fossil fuel projects.
Australia’s insurers are being left behind
Regulators, including APRA here in Australia, have started to wake up to “potentially system-wide” financial risks posed by climate change. They are calling on the insurance industry to take its rightful position as a leader in public discussion on the issue.
Some major steps to reduce exposure to climate risk have been taken by international insurers, with the likes of SwissRe, AXA, Allianz and Zurich leading the way by refusing to underwrite coal companies and/or coal mines and power stations. Insurance companies worldwide have now committed to divesting a total of around AUD$30 billion from coal and oil sands companies.
Despite this international movement, and climate risk warnings from APRA, Australia’s big insurers are missing in action when it comes to climate change. They continue to support even the most emissions intensive fossil fuel projects and companies, and – along with the Insurance Council of Australia – they’ve kept quiet in the public discussion about climate change and the serious risks it poses.