We’re ramping up the campaign demanding Liberty cut ties with fossil fuels
This post by Elana Sulakshana originally appeared on The Understory, the blog of Rainforest Action Network.
Every new dirty energy project needs insurance. With Liberty Mutual’s support, fossil fuel companies are digging new coal mines, building tar sands pipelines, and expanding oil and gas drilling in some of the most sensitive ecosystems in the world, often without the consent of impacted communities.
Back in 2019, Rainforest Action Network and partners launched the Liberty’s Climate Crisis campaign, holding the company accountable for its role in fueling climate chaos crisis and trampling on human rights. With your help, we’ve bombarded the company with hundreds of phone calls, thousands of emails and calendar invites, and dozens of actions at offices around the globe. We’ve exposed the dirty business dealings that are lurking behind Liberty’s silly emu mascot and catchy jingle.
In response to the growing grassroots pressure, Liberty has started to clean up its act a bit. It cut ties with some coal companies at the end of 2019, and last year, it signed onto a responsible investors network, pleading to build “inclusive societies for future generations” and incorporate critical environmental and social issues into business decisions. However, despite these steps in the right direction, Liberty remains deeply entangled with fossil fuel companies and has refused countless requests to meet from Indigenous leaders and frontline communities impacted by its insurance and investment practices.
Our campaign is working, but it’s clear that we need to double down to win the transformative change that we so urgently need from the insurance giant, which is lagging far behind US and global peers when it comes to climate action.
As we gear up to ramp up the pressure on Liberty Mutual this spring, here are five ways that Liberty Mutual is threatening communities and our collective futures right now:
1. Liberty is a top insurer and investor in oil and gas expansion. When your house is on fire, the last thing you want to do is pour fuel on it, and yet, that is the agenda of the fossil fuel industry. Through insurance services and investments, Liberty Mutual is enabling this agenda, funneling billions into new oil and gas extraction projects that the climate cannot afford and that threaten the health, safety, and rights of communities.
2. Liberty is providing a lifeline to destructive tar sands infrastructure. The tar sands sector poses grave risks to Indigenous rights, local ecosystems, and the climate. Current oil sands production is restricted by a pipeline bottleneck, which means that the future of increased oil sands extraction depends on two proposed pipelines: Trans Mountain and Line 3. Liberty Mutual is currently insuring Trans Mountain, and we think it’s also likely that the company is backing Line 3. (Stay tuned: Liberty has an upcoming opportunity to cut ties with Trans Mountain this summer that we’ll be making sure it’s well aware of.
3. Liberty is building its own coal mine in Australia, despite a policy restricting coal business. We’re not exactly sure why an insurance company needs its own coal mine, but for some reason, Liberty is plowing ahead with plans to build the Baralaba South coal mine in the face of united opposition from central Queensland farmers, ranchers, and Traditional Owners. Liberty is the sole owner of this proposed mine, which would have catastrophic impacts on the rights of the Woorabinda Aboriginal community, local agricultural and grazing land, and the global climate.
4. Liberty is refusing to rule out insurance coverage for Arctic oil and gas drilling. The Gwich’in Steering Committee has called on global insurers, including Liberty, to protect the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge from the harms of fossil fuel development. Unlike big Wall Street banks and many insurers, Liberty Mutual has refused to meet with Indigenous leaders and is still open to insuring projects in this protected wildlife area, which threaten the lands and lifeways of the Gwich’in people.
5. Liberty has zero safeguards in place to ensure that the projects it supports are not violating human rights. In fact, Liberty has no policies that concern human rights at all, including the right to Free, Prior, and Informed Consent. As a result, Liberty is complicit in the destruction of treaty-protected waterways, sacred lands, and traditional cultural practices all over the world. To make things even worse, Liberty has consistently refused to sit down with Indigenous communities impacted by Liberty-insured projects, despite countless requests from First Nations and Indigenous land defenders to meet with executives and discuss these harmful projects violating their internationally protected rights.
Every April, Liberty Mutual holds an annual meeting for its policyholders to vote on key issues like the company’s Board of Directors. Last year, the annual meeting lasted a whopping six minutes, and Liberty refused to address its role in propping up fossil fuels, despite dozens of questions from concerned customers and frontline communities.
We won’t let them get away with ignoring these voices again this year. We’re organizing a digital rally on the afternoon of Wednesday, April 14, the day of the annual meeting, to ensure that our demands are communicated loud and clear to Liberty Mutual executives.
Join us to hear from Indigenous leaders about ongoing resistance to destructive fossil fuel projects, learn what’s next in the Liberty’s Climate Crisis campaign, and take action calling on Liberty to insure the health and safety of communities and our collective futures.