AXA, the world’s second-biggest insurance company, is currently preparing an oil and gas policy and is expected to present it at the Climate Finance Day in Paris on October 26. In its flagship report, the World Energy Outlook, the International Energy Agency said last week that “no fossil fuel exploration is required and no new oil and natural gas fields are required beyond those that have already been approved for development” in a net-zero emissions scenario.
In line with these findings, Lucie Pinson, the Executive Director of Reclaim Finance, says: “AXA’s CEO, Thomas Buberl, has a clear choice to make: either immediately stop insuring all new oil and gas projects, including liquefied natural gas terminals, or default on its net-zero pledge. With COP26 fast approaching, he must commit to phase out insurance to companies engaged in the development of new oil and gas infrastructure by 2023, at the latest.”
AXA was the first major insurer to divest from the coal industry in 2015 and to stop insuring coal projects in 2017. Earlier this year, AXA also took the initiative to launch the Net-Zero Insurance Alliance. To date, 33 major insurers have restricted their underwriting of coal.
While AXA initiated the insurance industry’s exit from the coal sector, the company is still among the biggest insurers of the oil and gas industry. AXA has yet to rule out Gasunie’s proposed Brunsbuttel LNG terminal. Additionally, forthcoming research by the Insure Our Future campaign shows that AXA continues to insure the exploration of huge oil and gas reserves, including in fragile ecosystems near the mouth of the Amazon River which are home to blue whales, manatees and other threatened species.
Peter Bosshard, Coordinator of the Insure Our Future campaign, says: “Climate scientists agree that the planet cannot afford any new oil and gas projects. AXA’s climate leadership is on the line. Thomas Buberl needs to follow the science and rule out any support for new oil and gas projects, now.“
Leyla Larbi, Senior Campaigner with SumOfUs, says: “By taking action now, AXA has the unique opportunity to follow through on its green promises and to redefine the rules of the game by making new oil and gas projects uninsurable too. Tens of thousands of people throughout the world are now waiting for the insurer to stop paying lip service on climate and end its support for new oil and gas once and for all.”
In his closing remarks at the Insurance Development Forum in September, UN Secretary-General António Guterres said that “we need net zero commitments to cover your underwriting portfolios, and this should include the underwriting of coal — and all fossil fuels”. He made it clear that net-zero pledges will be assessed against the adoption of measures to phase-out insurance coverage to the fossil fuel industry.
The Financial Times ad and the open letter to the AXA CEO were signed by Reclaim Finance, the Insure Our Future campaign and SumOfUs. SumOfUs also started a global petition with its 19 million members asking AXA to stop insuring oil and gas projects. The campaign groups pledged to continue exposing the climate hypocrisy of leading fossil fuel insurers through COP26 and beyond.