Michael Finney | KGO | December 03, 2018
SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- In the 1980s and 1990s corporations were accused of enabling apartheid by investing in and doing business with South Africa. The divestiture movement took hold and played a major role in ending the racial separation policy. Now a new divestiture movement is being built. This one concentrates on global weather change.
The Global Climate Action Summit which took place in San Francisco a couple months back made international headlines. But there was one panel that you probably never heard a word about, Insure Our Future.
It was named after a campaign to convince the insurance industry to stop investing in and insuring coal and tar sand projects.
The Rainforest Action Network's Lindsey Allen cautioned insurance companies, "Don't make it all the way to the bottom of our scorecard and be the insurance company that has to be the target and public face of the lack of action on climate."
If insurers don't budge, they can expect a public shaming.
"Insurance companies investing in fossil fuels that exacerbates climate change is the same as doctors investing in cigarettes that kill their patients from cancer," says Jamie Court from Consumer Watchdog, "It is the same as hospitals investing in drugs like crack that put people in the hospital and kill their patients."
Court says insurers are making money by insuring companies that are causing others to face potential losses then insuring them too.
Activists say the Paradise Fire was caused in part by global weather change, which, they insist, is caused in part by insurance companies investing in and insuring fossil fuel projects.
In Europe insurance companies are feeling the heat from wildfires-- and the heat from activists, too.
"A number of European insurers have said they are committed to not only from divesting from anything related to thermal coal, the coal industry, but has committed to not underwriting any of those activities as well," says David Kodama of the Property Casualty Insurers Association, "but that is something I have not seen widely adopted here by the United States companies."
Kodama says there is no industry stand on the divestiture, but says financially stable -so insurance payments can be made- is its top priority, "We will definitely take this under consideration and then modify, maybe, our strategy going forward. We will have to look at that."
Peter Bosshard is with The Sunrise Project. He says insurance companies are central to the problem of global weather change, "The insurance industry plays a silent and often neglected, but never the less crucial role in modern society. Without insurance no project could go forward."