GSC Insurance Scorecard Updated: 12 Companies Now have Policy that Protects the Arctic Refuge
Plus First U.S. Company Shows Progress
For Immediate Release
FAIRBANKS, AK – Today the Gwich’in Steering Committee (GSC) released an update to its scorecard that tracks global insurance companies’ policy on fossil fuel development in the Coastal Plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
Since the initial release of the scorecard in August 2021, six additional “gold medal” companies have been added for a total of 12 international insurers with commitments that clearly articulate not insuring new oil and gas projects in the Refuge. MAPFRE (Spain), Talanx Group (Germany), SCOR (France), and Zurich (Switzerland) joined early responders AXIS (Bermuda), AXA (France), Hannover Re (Germany), Munich Re (Germany), Swiss Re (Switzerland), and Generali (Italy). Both Suncorp (Australia) and KBC (Belgium) now have policies that preclude all oil and gas projects.
Additionally, AIG became the first U.S. company placed in the rankings, with their new climate related policy limiting fossil fuel development in the Arctic. GSC has queried AIG to confirm that their definition of the Arctic includes the Refuge. Other major U.S. insurers such as Travelers, The Hartford, Chubb, and Liberty Mutual failed to rank on the scorecard and have not responded to multiple queries from the GSC since initial requests were made in 2020.
“Seeing commitments from insurance companies double in just seven months indicates that companies are realizing the impacts of climate change on their business, and that they are no longer willing to assume the risk that comes from insuring dead end fossil fuel development. But there is so much further to go,” said Bernadette Demientieff, Executive Director of the Gwich’in Steering Committee. “Every insurance company, every bank, every energy company must understand that development on our sacred land is as bad for business as it is for our families and the animals and resources we depend on to survive. Climate change impacts us at a greater rate than the rest of the world. We will never stop using our power and our voices to protect every being and element that feeds our bodies and spirit.”
The 1.5 million-acre Coastal Plain is the calving ground of the Porcupine Caribou Herd, on which Gwich’in and other Indigenous communities depend to sustain their people and culture. After decades of bipartisan protection for the Refuge, the Trump administration opened the area to oil and gas leasing in 2017 without regard for the human rights of Indigenous people or national public opinion. While leases were sold in 2021, activity was paused by the Biden administration to conduct a fulsome environmental impact review. Until permanent protections are reinstated, however, the Coastal Plain and all who depend on it are under threat from oil and gas development. The 2017 Tax and Jobs Act also mandates a second lease sale be held by 2024.
Among a broad strategy of frontline and international action, the Gwich’in have engaged with corporations about the harms of oil and gas development for decades. Through recent efforts by the Gwich’in Steering Committee, and with the support of allies across the United States, 29 global banks – including all six major U.S. banks and all five major Canadian banks – now have policies that prohibit project-level financing for development in the Refuge. Although the Alaska agency AIDEA and the Australian developer 88 Energy secured leases, no major oil and gas company bid to develop on the Refuge. Additionally, the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination has three times asked the United States to respond to potential harms and human rights violations to the Gwich’in from development.
“Our lives and our sovereignty are not negotiable. We will not allow the oil industry to destroy Iizhik Gwats’an Gwandaii Goodlit, the Sacred Place Where Life Begins,” Demientieff said on the initial scorecard release. “Caribou are the foundation of our songs, stories and dances, and the basis of our identity and spirituality, culture and way of life. Our identity is non-negotiable and our culture is not for sale.”
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