Today Boulder County becomes the first in the nation to call on insurance companies to stop insuring and investing in fossil fuels, passing a historical resolution on climate change and insurance. The move coincides with Fossil Fuel Divestment Day (F2D2), a national distributed day of action for student fossil fuel divestment campaigns and campaigns focused on divestment across the country. As this resolution is passed, students at over 50 campuses are also calling for fossil fuel divestment and climate action, along with allies in state pension divestment campaigns (such as Fossil Free PERA) and international groups. 350 Colorado took the lead in urging Boulder County to adopt new insurance practices, and stands in solidarity with calls for divestment across the nation today.
Boulder, CO – Today, Boulder County became the first county in the United States to call on insurance companies to stop insuring and investing in fossil fuels, and to announce that it will screen potential county insurance providers for those who continue to support fossil fuels without phaseout plans. The County Commissioners adopted a resolution on the matter, citing the need to address financial support for fossil fuel industries contributing to climate change and the enormous toll climate pollution inflicts on public health and the economy. The move coincides with Fossil Fuel Divestment Day, a national distributed day of action focused on divesting public funds, such as state pension funds and universities, from fossil fuels.
“Boulder County is committed to addressing global climate change at the local level,” said Boulder County Commissioner Elise Jones. “Like so many areas around the country, Colorado is already feeling the impacts of climate change. We are looking at the carbon footprint of our financial services, and making sure that the insurance companies we work with aren’t actively furthering the climate crisis was an obvious first step for the county to take. We encourage all counties and cities committed to climate action to join us.”
The resolution states that the county is taking this action to urge insurance industry companies to divest from fossil fuel industries and end the underwriting of activities in furtherance of the extraction or use of fossil fuels, and to establish divestment as a determining factor in making insurance carrier decisions. The proclamation acknowledges the insurance industry’s role in exacerbating the climate crisis and harming public health by providing financial support for industries contributing to the extraction and burning of fossil fuels such as coal, oil, and gas.
“This is a great step forward–it demonstrates to the financial industry that important customers are becoming uneasy with its inertia, and beginning to demand that the industry face its role in causing, and hopefully solving, the climate crisis,” said Bill McKibben, a founder of 350.org and leader in the global divestment movement.
Insurance companies invest customers’ premiums in fossil fuel companies and make dirty energy infrastructure projects possible by providing insurance to build and operate them. As noted in the resolution, the 40 largest U.S. insurers hold combined investments of over $450 billion in coal, oil, gas, and electric utilities. US insurance companies insure projects like coal-fired power plants, tar sands pipelines, and other fossil fuel infrastructure that lock the U.S. into decades of dirty and expensive energy that accelerates climate change. Meanwhile, these same insurers are abandoning communities at risk from climate change impacts by not renewing homeowner policies in vulnerable areas like wildfire zones.
“We applaud Boulder County for their leadership in taking this important step to help defund the climate crisis and align taxpayer dollars with local values and efforts to stabilize the climate and transition to a clean, renewable energy future,” said Micah Parkin, Executive Director of 350 Colorado and a member of the 350 Boulder County Team.
Boulder County follows the cities of San Francisco and Paris, which both adopted similar resolutions in 2018. The resolution comes just weeks after the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, in which climate activists called on leaders of the financial sector to take action to address the climate crisis. For the first time in history, the WEF 2020 report found that all of the top five global risks are climate change-related.
Since 2015, 19 global insurers have adopted policies to limit or end their insurance for coal; of these, just four are US insurers. Nearly 30 insurers have announced plans to divest from coal assets.
For more information, visit Insure Our Future — https://www.insureourfuture.us/.