For immediate release, 17 February 2020
Market Forces has announced it will lodge a shareholder resolution calling on global insurer QBE to get its underwriting and investment activities in line with keeping global warming below 1.5 degrees.
The resolution coincides with another year of high catastrophe costs and QBE’s recognition that it “consider[s] climate change to be a material risk for our business.”
For QBE’s Australia Pacific business, the net cost of catastrophe claims increased significantly to US$193 million or 5.4% of net earned premium compared with $106 million or 2.8% in the prior year, reflecting heightened catastrophe experience in Australia, particularly the Townsville floods and widespread bushfires. These figures do not include claims from bushfires and hailstorms in January and floods in February.
Last year QBE announced a phase-out of its thermal coal exposure by 2030, but continues to underwrite and invest in oil and gas projects, including highly polluting tar sands and unconventional gas, which are fueling the more extreme bushfires, floods, storms and drought hitting its bottom line.
Pablo Brait, Market Forces campaigner, said “the greatest carbon threats in Australia are in the rapidly expanding LNG and unconventional gas industries, and the science is clear that these dirty industries need to shrink rapidly if we are to keep global warming below 1.5 degrees. QBE can’t be taken seriously on climate unless it phases-out its support for all fossil fuels.”
“In its annual report, QBE states that it ‘continues to support the objectives of the Paris Agreement’. Unless QBE commits to ending its underwriting and investment in all fossil fuels, then in reality it is undermining this agreement.”
“The insurance industry’s very existence is under threat due to the impacts of the climate crisis. Profits are being smashed and premiums are becoming unaffordable across vast swathes of Australia. It makes no sense for QBE to be underwriting the industries most responsible for fueling natural disasters. It’s not only unethical but bad for business. Shareholders are asking QBE to act in their interest and phase-out oil and gas exposure.”