Liberty Urged to Walk Away from Fossil Fuel Risks

US insurance giant Liberty Mutual has been urged to cease all coverage for fossil fuel risks by a group of politicians from its home state.

In an open letter to the underwriter’s CEO over 30 Massachusetts State Legislators called on the Boston-based insurance company to address its role in driving climate change and cut ties with fossil fuel projects and companies.

Insurance companies are coming under increasing fire for their role in fuelling the climate crisis. Last month, NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer called on Liberty Mutual, AIG, and Berkshire Hathaway to stop insuring and investing in coal, due to the climate and financial risks of the sector.

In all 38 state senators and representatives signed the letter to Liberty CEO David Long which stated: “Now more than ever, the insurance sector must accelerate the transition to a low-carbon economy by phasing out fossil fuel insurance and investments. As the fifth largest property and casualty company worldwide, Liberty Mutual is in a unique position to push for an energy transition at a global scale.”

Climate activists say Liberty Mutual is a top fossil fuel insurer in the US and globally. Last December, the company adopted a policy that restricted insurance for some coal companies, but it has major loopholes for new coal projects and does not address oil and gas business. Liberty Mutual is currently insuring the controversial Keystone XL and Trans Mountain tar sands pipelines.

“We are calling on Liberty Mutual to stop insuring and investing in the coal and tar sands sectors and to phase out all fossil fuel business in line with a 1.5ºC pathway,” said State Senator Jamie Eldridge, who represents Middlesex and Worcester. “The science is clear that we must stop expanding fossil fuels and invest in a clean energy future. It is of grave importance that we take these actions to limit the destructive impacts of global warming and to ensure the health and safety of our communities for generations to come.”

“Liberty Mutual ought to protect society against climate risk, not exacerbate it. In Massachusetts, we are already experiencing flooding and heat waves linked to climate change,” said State Representative Dylan Fernandes, who represents Barnstable, Dukes & Nantucket counties. “We urge David Long and Liberty Mutual executives to stop underpinning the fossil fuel industry and take meaningful action in the face of the climate emergency.”

The legislators said they have agreed to add their voice to a global campaign that is pushing Liberty Mutual to take bold climate action and respect Indigenous rights. The Stop the Money Pipeline coalition made up of 100+ climate, environmental, and Indigenous organisations across the US, has named Liberty Mutual as a top target. Last month, more than 100,000 people signed onto a petition calling on Liberty to stop insuring tar sands.

“We applaud these legislators for calling on Liberty Mutual to step up and join state leaders working to decarbonize the Massachusetts economy,” said Randi Mail, finance organiser with Rainforest Action Network. “Liberty Mutual should listen to this growing movement – made up of policyholders, climate activists, Indigenous leaders, and politicians – by showing that US insurers can take bold action on climate change in accordance with the Paris Agreement.”

“It is critical that elected officials in Liberty Mutual’s backyard step up and urge Liberty Mutual to address the risks of climate change. The insurance industry has a responsibility to join efforts here in Massachusetts and globally to decarbonize the economy,” said Kevin McComber, a former Liberty Mutual employee and co-founder of the company’s Sustainability@Liberty employee group. Liberty Mutual has an opportunity to lead the insurance industry by taking action that is commensurate with the scale and urgency of the climate crisis, as legislators across Massachusetts are calling for.”

The letter comes after NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer called on Liberty Mutual, AIG, and Berkshire Hathaway last month, to stop insuring and investing in coal, due to the climate and financial risks of the sector.

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