Industry on alert for climate change protests at Baden-Baden

The annual reinsurance meeting in Baden-Baden is on high alert as it looks to avoid joining the list of high-profile industry events disrupted by climate change protesters this year.

The event has previously drawn the ire of climate activists, with protesters from Extinction Rebellion blocking access to the Kongresshaus last year and calling on the sector to stop underwriting coal, oil and gas production and instead support the transition to renewable energy.

In a statement issued shortly before the start of the conference on Sunday, activist groups Urgewald and Insure Our Future renewed their call on reinsurers to end their support of the fossil fuel industry.

The groups – which last month disrupted the annual Rendez-Vous in Monte Carlo – noted that reinsurers have already faced “huge and rising costs” from natural catastrophes due to climate change, which cost the $120bn sector in 2022.

“In light of the worsening climate crisis and the urgent calls for action made by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the world’s foremost authority on climate change, Urgewald and Insure Our Future repeat their demand for all reinsurers attending the Baden-Baden congress to immediately stop all insurance and investments in fossil fuel expansion,” the statement read.

“In addition, reinsurers must immediately provide a concrete 1.5°C-aligned phase-out plan for all remaining fossil fuel projects and companies.”

Insure Our Future noted that some reinsurers have exited or significantly reduced their capacity in the natural catastrophe market, while others have raised their prices significantly, with these costs ultimately passed on to consumers.

At the same time, some primary insurers have stopped providing cover to households and businesses most impacted by climate change, or raised the premiums in these regions to unaffordable levels.

“By any measure, this is not a sustainable business model,” it said.

Lindsay Keenan, European coordinator of Insure Our Future, said: “The chief executives of (re)insurers, including Peter Zaffino of AIG and John Neal of Lloyd’s of London, should be ashamed. They continue to insure and invest in fossil fuel companies with little or no restriction and are accomplices in climate crimes.

“Continuing to (re)insure fossil fuels is a toxic recipe for disaster for the whole world. CEOs like Joachim Wenning of Munich Re and Christian Mumenthaler of Swiss Re can take some pride in the restrictions they have placed on reinsuring some fossil fuels, but we remind them that real climate leaders also do not insure new fossil gas infrastructure (or US coal mines).”

It comes after environmental activist groups – led by Extinction Rebellion – staged protests outside nine (re)insurers’ offices in the City of London last week, calling for an end to the industry’s alleged involvement in fossil fuel pipelines and mining projects.

Targeted insurers in the action were Ascot, Talbot, Chaucer, Markel, Allied World, CNA Hardy, Tokio Marine Kiln, Sirius International and Lancashire Syndicate. The campaigners specifically argued that the (re)insurers should publicly rule out providing coverage to the East Africa Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP), as well as the proposed West Cumbria Coal Mine.

Last month climate activists from Greenpeace, Insure Our Future and Urgewald disrupted the annual reinsurance meeting in Monte Carlo, urging the sector to stop (re)insuring deforestation and oil exploration in the Democratic Republic of Congo. And In August, Money Rebellion – the sister movement to Extinction Rebellion – held protests outside several London offices of (re)insurers that allegedly failed to rule out providing coverage to EACOP.