5 March 2020
Shareholders coordinated by Market Forces together with the $4bn investment manager Australian Ethical have co-filed a resolution calling for the global insurer to align underwriting (insurance) and investment activities with keeping global warming below 1.5 degrees.
QBE has confirmed to the ASX this morning that the resolution will be voted on at its annual general meeting on 7 May.
The resolution coincides with another year of high catastrophe costs in the Australia Pacific region, bad weather impacting US crop production 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 in 2019 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.
Shareholders are asking QBE to act in their interest and phase-out oil and gas exposure. The ever-worsening impacts of the climate crisis are smashing profits and driving up premiums to unaffordable levels across vast swathes of Australia. It makes no sense for QBE to be underwriting the industries most responsible for fueling extreme weather. It’s bad for business.
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. 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 – as are any investors which do not vote in favour of the resolution.
Take action! Contact QBE and ask it to phase out its oil and gas insuring and investing: