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Disrupting unjust systems: how Quakers are joining the Insure Our Future Week of Action

The insurance industry is supporting new fossil fuel projects, but people of faith are joining communities around the world to call for change.

By insuring fossil fuel projects, the insurance industry is protecting polluters. Photo: Michael Preston for Quakers in Britain
By insuring fossil fuel projects, the insurance industry is protecting polluters. Photo: Michael Preston for Quakers in Britain

When Quakers in Britain made a commitment to climate justice in 2021, the minute spoke to the impact of economic systems:

“Seeking to reduce carbon emissions is an urgent priority, but without interrogating and disrupting our existing economic systems, this will only lead us back to an unjust system..."

Minute 33, Yearly Meeting 2021

That's why Quakers and others of all faiths and none have joined the Insure Our Future campaign – to work together to ask the insurance industry to change.

How the insurance industry enables fossil fuel projects

Most adults in the UK have probably taken out an insurance policy at some point – on their car or home, for travel or for extra healthcare. We're familiar with the idea of paying a small fee so that, in the worst-case scenario, we can claim to cover the cost.

However, most of us are less familiar with the fact that insurance is a key building block of any new fossil fuel project. It's one of the many ways in which the global finance system interacts with and supports continued fossil fuel extraction.

Businesses that create new fossil fuel projects need insurance for the same reasons we do: to keep them safe from catastrophic risks. But by insuring new oil and gas projects, the insurance industry isn't protecting the world from risk; it's allowing new, dangerous fossil fuel projects to be brought into operation.

Holding insurers to account

Energy insurance is a relatively concentrated industry. A small number of insurers cover a lot of the world's needs. By changing the insurance that's available through those insurers, we could have a huge impact on the energy sector. The Insure Our Future coalition is working to capitalise on this Achilles heel of the fossil fuel industry – to hold insurers to account and help accelerate the shift away from fossil fuels.

Across the world, communities are rising up to oppose dangerous fossil fuel projects and demand that insurers protect communities, not polluters. We've joined these communities by writing a letter to select insurance companies asking them to stop insuring new oil and gas projects, and in particular to rule out the East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP). In the letter we say, as we said to leaders of the major insurance marketplace Lloyd's of London last year:

“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."

Insure Our Future's week of action aims to get this message across to insurers from a huge diversity of voices and perspectives.

Join us to call for change

In London, people of faith will gather at 9.30am on Monday 26 February outside Lloyd's of London for reflection and worship in the face of continuing climate breakdown, and to mark our hope for economic systems to change to better support people and planet.

All are welcome to join in a spirit of friendship. We ask attendees not to bring non-faith banners or placards in order to preserve the distinct faith nature of the gathering, but we welcome those of all faiths and none.

For other ways to get involved, visit the Insure Our Future website to find out about actions across the globe and online actions that anybody can take from anywhere in the world.

To find out more about the vigil on Monday 26 February, or about Quakers in Britain's involvement in Insure Our Future, email climatejustice@quaker.org.uk.

Visit the 'Insure Our Future' website