Extinction Rebellion sends ‘message from the heart’ to global insurance leaders - Extinction Rebellion UK

Extinction Rebellion sends ‘message from the heart’ to global insurance leaders

‘Be climate heroes or we’ll expose you as climate zeroes’

Hundreds of top insurance bosses were sent an ultimatum by letter yesterday as Extinction Rebellion gears up to join a week of protests in the City of London and in towns and cities across the UK and across the world

Thousands of activists from XR and a host of other organisations and movements are expected to flood into the City from Monday (February 26) to demand that leading insurers pull the plug on the fossil fuel crooks by refusing to insure new and existing oil, gas and coal projects and infrastructure.

Chidi Obihara, of Extinction Rebellion said: “Just 20 companies insure 70% of fossil fuel projects. Many of these companies are based in the City of London, or in cities and towns across the UK. They have the power to pull the plug on the fossil fuel crooks once and for all. To play a huge role in saving us all from a future of drought, famines, killer storms and heatwaves and war.

“The letter that we sent to the leaders of the insurance industry in the UK yesterday offers them the chance to be climate heroes rather than the targets of mass protests that will severely damage their reputations. We really hope that they read it and do the right thing.”

The letter sent by Extinction Rebellion yesterday to CEOs, senior underwriters, and chief actuaries at more than 40 insurance firms in the City of London reads: 

We’re writing to you from the heart to offer you and your business the opportunity to be the climate heroes that millions of us desperately need you to be in these times of terrifying and rapidly accelerating crisis.

You and your colleagues possess an amazing and quite unique superpower. You could simply refuse to underwrite new and existing oil, gas and coal projects and infrastructure – and stop the global fossil fuel industry that is causing the climate crisis in its tracks. 

Immediately, companies such as Total and Adani would be left to face the full financial risk of ‘carbon bomb’ projects including the East Africa Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP) and the West Cumbria coal mine (1) – and thus be unable to push ahead with them.

At a stroke, you would give all of us a fighting chance of avoiding global temperature rises that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres predict will plunge us into a future of deadly droughts, famines, killer storms and heatwaves, war and societal collapse. (2)

At the same time, you will save your own industry from destruction. Louise Pryor, Chair of the Ecology Building Society and a past President of the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries, warns the increasing numbers and severity of climate-related disasters could soon trigger an insurability crisis and destroy your business model.

We know that you know this. 

But we also know that you are currently refusing to pull the plug on the discovery, production and distribution of oil, gas and coal because you are focused on short-term thinking and profits.

You have been able to do this until now because your pivotal role in greenlighting the exploration and exploitation of new and existing oil and gas reserves has gone largely unnoticed by the public, unremarked by the media, and ignored by the politicians. 

But this is about to change.

On February 26, we will begin to shine the full spotlight of public scrutiny and media attention on your complicity in creating the greatest and deadliest crisis that humanity has ever faced. 

There will be a week of protests and actions in the City of London and in cities and towns across the UK in which we will target the businesses that are insuring climate chaos and ecological destruction.

At the same time, insurers who continue to insure the fossil fuel industry will face at least 33 actions in 24 cities around the world by other groups and movements

Currently your business is on a list of potential UK targets for protest. This means that your activities in the fossil fuel sector could be made dramatically public and that you could be subjected to huge reputational damage and consequent revenue loss.

But it doesn’t have to be that way.

We have three demands to make of you:

  1. Stop enabling fossil fuels: immediately cease insuring new and expanding oil and gas projects
  2. Respect human rights: only insure projects that respect the human rights of all, and have the informed consent of Indigenous Peoples and communities
  3. Support a just transition: increase industry support for renewables, frontline communities, and those in energy-crisis.

Tell us that you will meet these demands by midnight on Sunday February 25 and we will remove your business from our list of potential targets for protest.

It’s a decision that will safeguard the future of your business as climate-related losses soar, put you on the right side of history, and earn you the thanks and respect of everyone alive today, and of generations yet to be born.

We hope that you will decide that a liveable planet for all of us is more important than the pursuit of profit at all costs, and use your power of veto to halt the fossil fuel juggernaut before it crushes all that we hold dear.  

We look forward to your reply.

Love & rage

Extinction Rebellion UK

Notes to Editors

​[1] Carbon bombs set to trigger catastrophic climate breakdown: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/ng-interactive/2022/may/11/fossil-fuel-carbon-bombs-climate-breakdown-oil-gas
[2] UN secretary general warns we are at ‘the gates of hell’ with the worsening climate crisis: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2023/sep/20/antonio-guterres-un-climate-summit-gates-hell

About Extinction Rebellion

Extinction Rebellion (XR) is a decentralised, international and politically non-partisan movement using non-violent direct action and civil disobedience to persuade governments to act justly on the Climate and Ecological Emergency.

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Time has almost entirely run out to address the climate and ecological crisis which is upon us, including the sixth mass species extinction, global pollution, and increasingly rapid climate change. If urgent and radical action isn’t taken, we’re heading towards 4˚C warming, leading to societal collapse and mass loss of life. The younger generation, racially marginalised communities and the Global South are on the front-line. No-one will escape the devastating impacts.

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