Hot on the heels of Greenpeace’s protest at the Baden Baden Reinsurance Rendezvous yesterday the industry has now come under pressure from the insurers and brokers of the future.
A petition from young people preparing for careers in insurance is calling on U.S. insurance companies to end their underwriting and investments in coal and other fossil fuels. The petition was started by Schuyler Holder, a senior at The University of North Texas, and a member of the national insurance fraternity Gamma Iota Sigma.
“I’m excited to start a career in risk management, hopefully within the insurance industry, but I want to know that the company I choose to work for is doing everything it can to tackle the climate crisis that my generation is facing,” said Mr Holder. “Insurance, at its core, is about helping people in their most desperate times, and if U.S. insurers step up they can play a huge role in stopping the worst impacts of climate change. It’s just smart business. Out of all the industries, the insurance industry should be the most aware of, and vigilant against, the risks of climate change for the sake of their customers.”
In the wake of the climate strikes and an ongoing rise in youth activism, the petition, so far signed by 185 business and risk management students and young professionals who have recently entered the insurance field, will put a new focus on the insurance sector.
Generation Z is expected to make up over 30% of the workforce by 2030 and is the first generation to prioritise purpose over money when considering their career. According to a 2015 Yale survey, 86% of business students would choose to work for a company with good environmental practices, and 44% would accept a lower salary to do so. This is all the more pertinent to the insurance industry which is expected to have 400,000 jobs to fill by 2020 due to its aging workforce.
“It’s my generation that will have to deal with the worst impacts of climate change, and sadly, it looks like we’re going to have to resolve a problem that was created long before us,” added Mr Holder. “We understand that business practices are intrinsically linked to the climate crisis. Business leaders can no longer just worry about profits. They must take responsibility for their companies’ role in sustaining or destroying a liveable future for everyone. For the insurance industry that means we have to stop insuring coal and other fossil fuels.”
The petition to the insurance industry speaks to both moral and economic reasons for insurance companies to pull out of fossil fuels. It states: “There is now global recognition of how the insurance industry contributes to climate change by underwriting and investing in fossil fuels. Insurers’ decision to continue to support the fossil fuel sector directly contradicts the actions needed to mitigate the climate crisis and to protect long term economic stability.”