Holding Lime Street to account over ESG promises

It’s easy to carp, but with Christmas around the corner I’m in a rather charitable mood. This week Lloyd’s published its first ever Environmental, Social and Governance Report – a milestone which clearly deserves some recognition and applause.

First things first, let’s get the grumbles out of the way. As we report, the news that the market will allow its syndicates to insure thermal coal-fired power plants, thermal coal mines, oil sands and new Arctic energy exploration activities until 2030 has come under fire from climate campaigners.

As Lindsay Keenan, European Coordinator for protest group Insure Our Future – which has often made its voice loud and clear on Lime Street – says: “the 2030 deadline is not justified by climate science and the urgent need for action. We will continue to hold Lloyd’s accountable until it has met these recommendations.”

Lloyd’s is being quite canny here, one suspects. What will make the coal industry fade from view is its uneconomic status. At the moment, certainly in a raft of developing economies, coal remains king because it is relatively cheaper than alternatives. But as technologies improve and political attitudes shift, the reality is that coal’s days are numbered.

This is already evident in the US, where despite Trump’s backing for coal over the past four years the traditional deep-mining industry has continued to decline in the face of cheaper alternatives – most noticeably fracking.

Yet there’s life in the black stuff yet, at least for the next decade, so why waste a good opportunity, eh?

Oh dear, I seem to be overly negative, so let’s change tack. Yes, there are fudges and compromises at Lloyd’s as there are in any major institution but I genuinely think that the Corporation is sincere in its efforts to adopt a progressive agenda, facing up to the changing realities of not only climate change but other wider societal issues, not least of which is a serious adoption of the Diversity & Inclusion agenda.

The cynics amongst us will say this is all just a marvellous PR exercise to make Lloyd’s look good, but there are some specific proposals in its ESG report, including these three:

  • We will work to achieve our phase one target of 35% female representation in leadership positions across the Lloyd’s market by 31 December 2023.
  • We will set a target for Black and Minority Ethnic representation in leadership positions in the Lloyd’s market in Q2 2021.
  • We will continue to reduce the Corporation’s gender pay gap, and work to ensure that Lloyd’s market Boards and Executive Committees combined will have at least 20% female representation by 31 December 2023.

So there you go- some targets to reach. Let’s put them in the diary and hold the Corporation to account when the time comes.

Enjoy the read,