UK

Activists target City insurers over fossil fuels amid week of global action

Protesters gathered outside and in the lobbies of six London insurance companies.

Protesters hold a sign outside the offices of Probitas in London
XR protest in London Protesters hold a sign outside the offices of Probitas in London (DENISE LAURA BAKER)

Extinction Rebellion (XR) protesters have targeted the offices of insurance firms in the City of London as part of a week-long global action against fossil fuel coverage.

The co-ordinated campaign – Insure Our Future’s Global Week of Action – will see dozens of events staged in cities across 27 countries, including London, New York, Tokyo and Zurich, to highlight the role of the insurance industry in the climate crisis.

The XR protest comes as one of a string of events planned in London over the week, involving the campaign groups Mothers Rise Up, Tipping Point UK, StopEACOP, Quakers UK, Coal Action Network and Eko.

XR protesters gathered outside, and in the lobbies, of five insurance firms’ offices in London on Tuesday: Tokio Marine Kiln in Fenchurch Street; Probitas 1492 in Leadenhall Street; Talbot in Threadneedle Street; Zurich Insurance in Mark Lane; and Travelers in Creechurch Place.

They held signs reading: “Don’t insure fossil fuels, insure our future”, and “no cover for climate chaos”.

The group said it was staging an “indefinite occupation” in the lobbies until bosses agree to talk to them about their decision to keep insuring oil and gas.

Liz Pendleton, an Extinction Rebellion campaigner, said: “We are here to engage constructively with insurance bosses about their decision to insure the fossil fuel crooks wrecking the climate.

“We’re staying until they come down and talk to us.”

Protesters also targeted the offices of Travellers Insurance. (Jonathan Vines/Extinction Rebellion)
Protesters also targeted the offices of Travellers Insurance. (Jonathan Vines/Extinction Rebellion) Protesters also targeted the offices of Travellers Insurance. (Jonathan Vines/Extinction Rebellion)

She added that the insurance industry has a opportunity to halt “carbon bomb” projects like the East Africa Crude Oil Pipeline and the West Cumbria coal mine.

“It’s very simple. No insurance equals no drilling. No insurance equals no digging,” she said.

“So these companies have a superpower that could give us all a fighting chance of a liveable future.”

It comes after Quakers in Britain held an interfaith vigil outside the Lloyd’s of London headquarters on Monday morning followed by Mothers Rise Up – a group of mothers who campaign for climate action – staging an orchestral street show.

Protesters in the lobby of 20 Fenchurch Street to target insurer Tokio Marine. (Gareth Morris/Extinction Rebellion)
Protesters in the lobby of 20 Fenchurch Street to target insurer Tokio Marine. (Gareth Morris/Extinction Rebellion) Protesters in the lobby of 20 Fenchurch Street to target insurer Tokio Marine. (Gareth Morris/Extinction Rebellion)

Mothers Rise Up said they were calling for the insurance marketplace to cease coverage for new fossil fuel projects and for a rapid phase-down of existing fossil fuel projects in line with a 1.5C pathway.

More than 30 dancers performed to Antonin Dvorak’s New World Symphony, accompanied by stilt walkers dressed as oil derricks and a child sitting inside a blow-up planet Earth.

Emma Powell, co-founder of Mothers Rise Up, said: “We all want a healthy and thriving planet for children and future generations.

“Through music, props and dance, we are creating a vision of a better world and urging the insurance industry to play its role in bringing this future into reality.”

Mothers Rise Up – a group of concerned mums who campaign for climate action –staged a street performance outside Lloyd’s of London on Monday (Anna Gordon/Mothers Rise Up)
Mothers Rise Up – a group of concerned mums who campaign for climate action –staged a street performance outside Lloyd’s of London on Monday (Anna Gordon/Mothers Rise Up) Mothers Rise Up – a group of concerned mums who campaign for climate action –staged a street performance outside Lloyd’s of London on Monday (Anna Gordon/Mothers Rise Up) (ANNA GORDON/Anna Gordon)

Maya Mailer, co-founder of Mothers Rise Up, added: “Through their underwriting choices, insurance companies can play a pivotal role in accelerating a fair, rapid transition to a world powered by safe, clean renewable energy.

“And yet insurers in the Lloyd’s marketplace continue to insure and enable dangerous, fossil fuel expansion, including human rights abusing projects like the East African Crude Oil Pipeline.

“The world’s oldest and most influential marketplace should be a leader, not a laggard, and play its part now in preventing further climate breakdown.”

Paul Parker, recording clerk for Quakers of Britain, said: “Those who offer financial backing and social legitimacy to new fossil fuel projects now have an urgent moral responsibility to change course.

“This duty extends to all sectors and all parts of society. The insurance industry has significant influence on the global economy; you can put our whole world on a safer trajectory by showing leadership now.”

PA has contacted Lloyd’s of London, Talbot, Tokio Marine, Probitas 1492, Travelers and Zurich Insurance for comment.