Municipalities are setting the bar for climate action but their insurance premiums are going to fossil fuels

With 80 percent of the U.S. population living in cities, local leaders are critical in ensuring a safe climate future for all. From transportation and waste management to sourcing clean energy and energy efficiency, cities are leading efforts to tackle climate change and making communities more healthy, resilient and prosperous.

Collectively, municipalities spend a lot on insurance premiums to protect their employees, their infrastructure, and vital public services, increasingly so in the face of uncertainties brought by climate change. These premiums are being invested into fossil fuels and in some cases, the same companies providing insurance to a city are also providing it for new coal plants or gas pipelines.

As customers, cities can send a strong signal to the U.S. insurance industry by calling on their carriers to stop underwriting and investing in fossil fuels or by enacting procurement policies giving preference to carriers that have limited fossil fuel financing.

Municipal efforts to date:

  • San Francisco was the first U.S. city to pass a resolution to cut ties with insurers that are investing in or insuring coal and tar sands companies and projects. The resolution recognizes that insurance companies’ support of dirty energy projects accelerates climate change and pledges that the city will purchase its commercial insurance from companies that are committed to action on climate change

  • The City of Paris passed a resolution in 2018 calling on major insurers to end support for the coal industry, citing its impact on climate change and the pollution that causes 23,000 premature deaths across Europe every year.

Elected officials, risk managers, and sustainability officers can all be a part of this solution. Aligning your city’s insurance procurement policies with other sustainability goals makes sense and is a real solution from the public sector. By contrast, cities that continue to pay insurance premiums that are then invested into fossil fuels are undermining their climate efforts.

Why buy insurance against the risks from climate change from the same insurance companies that are making the problem worse by financing fossil fuels?

GET YOUR CITY OR COUNTY INVOLVED - START WITH THESE RESOURCES:

Insurance: A Climate Leadership Opportunity for Municipalities

Roadmap: How To Align Your Insurance Procurement with the Paris Agreement

Sample Letter to Your City/County’s Insurance Carriers

San Francisco Board of Supervisors Resolution

questions? Ideas? Tell us about your efforts - we want to hear from you.

Contact Mary Sweeters, Outreach Manager - mary@sunriseproject.net