QBE to review climate risk of investments and underwriting

16 August 2018

Yesterday, volunteers from Market Forces and 350.org visited QBE’s head office in Sydney and spoke to staff about its climate change policies.

QBE, Australia’s largest global insurer, is facing increasing pressure to end its support for fossil fuels. The company is an important provider of insurance to coal mines, coal-fired power stations, oil rigs and gas pipelines, and also owns millions of dollars worth of coal, oil and gas company shares.

QBE’s continued support for fossil fuels makes little sense as the impacts of global warming continue to worsen, threatening QBE’s bottom line and its ability to properly assess risk. According to Swiss Re, 2017 was the costliest year in the history of the insurance industry and QBE itself reported a US$1.2 billion loss. This was mainly due to extreme weather like floods, storms and wildfires, which are being fueled by the use of coal, oil and gas.

However, today QBE signalled that it may start to shift. As part of its half-year results announcement, the insurer published a plan for the implementation of the recommendations of the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD).

Earlier this year QBE faced pressure from investors to do just that, with a shareholder resolution on the matter achieving 18.6% of the vote at QBE’s annual general meeting in May 2018.

This TCFD action plan includes a review, with regards to climate-related risk, of investment strategy to be completed by the end of 2018, and a review of its underwriting strategy by the end of 2019. Disclosure of climate risk will begin in six months, when the 2018 annual report is released.

While it’s encouraging that QBE is now seriously looking at their investment and underwriting strategies – on fossil fuels we already know the answer. That answer is divestment from coal, oil and gas company shares and an end to its provision of insurance to coal, oil and gas projects. This cannot wait until after 2019 and needs to begin right now.

Take action: contact QBE by using the form below. Click here for more information.