The insurance sector is the Achilles’ heel of the fossil fuel industry
Without insurance, fossil fuel companies cannot operate and fossil fuel projects cannot be built or maintained.
This is why we, at Mothers Rise Up, a UK climate-parent group, focus our creative energy on the insurance sector, particularly on the world’s oldest, biggest and most influential marketplace: Lloyd’s of London, which insures up to 40 per cent of the energy market. Together with the Insure Our Future coalition, we are calling on Lloyd’s to implement and enforce an ambitious policy and plan that requires its members to stop underwriting coal, tar sands and Arctic energy and all fossil fuel expansion.
As mothers, we are compelled to protect our kids, and all children, from a climate crisis that accelerates before our eyes. Insurance, too, is meant to offer protection. But by underwriting the dirtiest fossil fuel projects, Lloyd’s is complicit in harming our planet and risking our children’s future.
Appealing to Lloyd’s Chair as a dad and cricket fan
Mothers Rise Up has been appealing to the Chair of Lloyd’s, Bruce Carnegie-Brown, as a father of four and cricket enthusiast. We have given him cricket-themed gifts, made a song and dance outside his offices through a Mary Poppins-inspired flash mob that went viral, brought Mother Earth in concert, and dropped a banner at Lord’s cricket club, where he is also Chair. All this in an effort to persuade him and Lloyd’ insurers to do what is right by our kids and planet.
Alongside Carnegie-Brown, we have also turned our attention to Lloyd’s investors – a group of wealthy individuals known as the ‘Association of Lloyd’s Members’ or ALM. They provide capital to insurers within the Lloyd’s marketplace, yielding great influence.
An artful way to reach Lloyd’s powerful investors
In June, the investors held their summer AGM in the heart of London. Mothers Rise Up decided it was time to engage this powerful group, which normally stays in the shadows. But we were worried that they would dismiss or ignore a protest. So we decided to go for the Trojan horse approach, creating the impression that we were part of Lloyd’s welcoming committee.
We hired a trio to play classical music as the investors arrived. Dusting off our smartest outfits, we handed out over 100 slick looking corporate notepads that carried our message: Lloyd’s reckless approach to the climate crisis is putting their money and reputations at risk – and, most importantly, all children’s futures on the line.
As the overwhelmingly older male investors arrived at the conference, generally by black cab, they mistook the smartly dressed women for Lloyd’s corporate outreach team. While admiring the classic music, they noticed a sign in Lloyd’s colours, assuming it had been arranged by the company.
Some were bemused; a few openly displeased; encouragingly, several of the investors engaged and expressed a degree of support, including the Secretary of the ALM. We were able to carry our message into the heart of Lloyd’s complex, corporate structure.
Bringing joy and creativity to climate organising
Mothers Rise Up deploys creativity, art and culture to advance climate action. The climate crisis is overwhelming. A staggering one billion children, nearly half the world’s children, are already at ‘extremely high risk’ of being impacted by climate change, losing homes, education, and their dreams. Those children tend to live in countries who have done the least to contribute to carbon pollution and are least equipped to deal with its impact.
In the face of such immense heartbreak, we aim to bring joy and humour. It keeps us going, brings people into climate organising, and helps build bridges with those we are trying to influence.
Change is coming
Thanks to a growing, collective effort, 15 major insurance companies have introduced fossil fuel exclusion policies, heeding the warnings of the International Energy Agency that there can be no new fossil fuel expansion if we are to have a fighting chance of a liveable planet.
For our children’s sake, we hope Lloyd’s swiftly follows suit.
Maya Mailer is co-founder of Mothers Rise Up and co-Director of Our Kids’ Climate.