14 October 2019
The anonymous tip-off came via one of the many grassroots groups fighting to stop the Adani Carmichael coal project. It said that Lloyd’s syndicates from AXIS Capital and Canopius were negotiating to underwrite the Carmichael railway line construction.
Just over a week later, and only three days after we blew the whistle on the negotiations, the deal had fallen apart with both AXIS Capital and Canopius publicly withdrawing.
While this dirty little deal didn’t end up going anywhere, what the episode highlights is the role that the Lloyd’s marketplace could play in underwriting the construction of a massive new coal mine and rail line in the midst of a climate crisis.
Lloyd’s isn’t an insurance company but an insurance marketplace. People and companies tend to go to Lloyd’s and its syndicates when they have a particularly complex risk that they are finding difficult to insure directly with insurance companies. Considering that currently 16 of the biggest insurers in the world are refusing to insure all or some of the climate-wrecking Carmichael project, it is not surprising that Adani’s insurance broker Marsh is now looking around in the Lloyd’s marketplace.
The latest statement from Lloyd’s is that “to the best of our knowledge the Lloyd’s market is not knowingly involved with the project currently”. However, Lloyd’s has refused to act to prevent involvement with Carmichael coal in the future.
This means that any moment now, insurers operating within Lloyd’s could strike a deal with Adani, which is why it is critical that Lloyd’s bans the coverage of Adani Carmichael in its marketplace immediately.
Lloyd’s has the power to act. In 2018 it banned its syndicates from participating in National Rifle Association (NRA) insurance programs in the USA.
Earlier this month, Lloyd’s CEO John Neal refused to commit to banning coal underwriting at Lloyd’s saying, “Only in exceptional circumstances will we direct the market not to write a certain kind of business”.
Exceptional circumstances like catastrophic global warming? What’s more exceptional than a crisis which threatens every living thing on this planet?
The climate emergency is hitting the profits of insurance companies hard. They are the ones that pay out when floods, bushfires and storms strike, and they are doing so with increasing frequency.
Lloyd’s loyalty to the coal industry is misguided. It is not in its interest or anyone else’s to assist the expansion of the biggest single cause of global warming. Just as it did with NRA gun insurance, it needs to step in and prohibit any syndicate operating in its marketplace from underwriting the disastrous Adani Carmichael project. Any delay could see a deal done, and Lloyd’s fate as a climate criminal of the highest order sealed.
Take action. Contact Lloyd’s and ask it to join the 60 major corporations which have already ruled out support for the Adani Carmichael coal project: