April 9, 2020, Hartford, CT – Connecticut Citizen Action Group, Sierra Club Connecticut, and 10 other Connecticut organizations, released “Connecticut Insurers: Ensuring the Climate Crisis” spelling out how the Connecticut insurance industry is ensuring climate change by continuing to underwrite fossil fuel projects and invest in fossil fuels.
“Climate change will have a massive impact on all aspects of life in Connecticut, including expanding our vulnerability to emerging infectious diseases and pandemics. This report allows us to look at major players in one critical Connecticut industry and identify next steps for action,” said Senator Matt Lesser (D-Middletown), co-chair of the Insurance and Real Estate Committee.
HIghlighted in the report are the fossil fuel investments of Connecticut’s 30 largest insurers including Travelers, The Hartford, and Cigna.
“Connecticut is a leader in climate action, yet our insurance industry is failing to take the action necessary to avoid climate catastrophe. Instead, the top insurers in our state are investing billions in fossil fuels, and insuring an untold number of fossil fuel projects,” said Samantha Dynowski, Sierra Club Connecticut.
The report finds that:
The Hartford has $3.2 billion invested in fossil fuels, including $668 million in thermal coal, the most carbon intensive fuel. In December 2019, the company took a first step by adopting a policy to limit some fossil fuel business. However, the groups point out significant loopholes in the policy, including long transition periods for clients; failing to address large, diversified mining companies; failing to address tar sands pipelines and other tar sands transport infrastructure projects and companies; and failing to protect the rights of Indigenous communities, whose land rights are frequently threatened by fossil fuel infrastructure projects.
Travelers has $3.5 billion invested in fossil fuels, according to the most recent data from the California Department of Insurance, and zero policies to address the company’s fossil fuel insurance coverage or investments. Travelers’ holdings include oil companies Chevron, Exxon, and Shell; Connecticut Natural Gas Corporation; and pipeline companies Halliburton and Kinder Morgan.
Cigna, the health insurer headquartered in Bloomfield, Connecticut, has $2.3 billion invested in fossil fuels, more than any other health insurer listed in the top ten by market share. Investments include pipeline companies Enbridge and TC Energy (formerly Transcanada), oil companies Chevron and Marathon Petroleum, natural gas company Targa Resources, and coal company Peabody. Cigna does not have any policies on fossil fuel investing.
“Every study on the potential impact of climate change warns of severe weather events and an increased risk of future pandemics. Any insurer that isn’t aggressively rethinking their relationship with fossil fuels, even before the recent volatility in oil markets, is not fulfilling their fiduciary responsibility to investors, policyholders and the communities in which they operate,” says Tom Swan, Connecticut Citizen Action Group.
Connecticut organizations are calling for insurance companies to divest their assets from fossil fuels, halt underwriting of fossil fuels and develop sustainable investment policies.
The report and grassroots efforts in Connecticut to address the insurance industry’s role in climate change is part of the Insure Our Future campaign, a national effort comprised of dozens of organizations working to get insurers to stop providing financial support to polluting fossil fuel industries, the key drivers of climate change.