Young People Demand Liberty Mutual Stop Fueling Climate Chaos and Respect Indigenous Rights
Boston, MA (February 22, 2021) – Today, 30+ youth-led, climate justice organizations representing more than 3,700 young people and students sent an open letter to David Long, CEO of Liberty Mutual Insurance, urging the company to stop fueling the climate crisis and meet with Indigenous communities impacted by Liberty’s support for rights-violating coal, oil, and gas projects.
“We are writing to demand that you, as the CEO of Liberty Mutual, direct your company to stop insuring fossil fuel projects that jeopardize our future,” the letter reads. It points specifically to Liberty’s coverage of destructive tar sands pipelines like Trans Mountain and Line 3, which are being constructed without the consent of impacted Indigenous communities and in the face of fierce resistance on the ground.
Last summer, Liberty Mutual refused to drop the Trans Mountain pipeline, despite an opportunity to cut ties following the lead of major European insurers: “As young people fighting for the right to a livable future, we are greatly concerned that when given the option to cut ties with a project threatening our lives, you instead chose profit,” the groups, which include College Climate Coalition, Divest Ed, and Atlantic Coast Conference Climate Justice Coalition, write. They add: “Why would we work at your company or buy your insurance if you do not take our futures seriously?”
Inaction on climate change is becoming a liability for the insurance industry, which is facing a talent crisis as its workforce ages and an inability to attract young people. Hundreds of risk management students have signed a petition urging the U.S. insurance industry to curb its underwriting and investing in coal, oil, and gas, citing the urgent imperative to tackle the climate crisis and respect human rights.
“Liberty Mutual must either admit that its values mean nothing, or commit to not insuring Line 3 or any future pipelines and pull out of insuring the Trans Mountain pipeline. By continuing to insure fossil fuels, Liberty Mutual absolutely holds responsibility for the human rights violations that have already come from these projects and inevitably will continue to occur,” said Jess Cohen with MIT Divest.
Attention has turned to Boston-based insurance giant Liberty Mutual in recent months with pressure mounting from First Nations fighting Liberty-backed tar sands projects, Australian farmers resisting a coal mine that Liberty owns in their backyard, and political leaders including Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-MA). Last week, Indigenous youth occupied Liberty’s Vancouver office demanding that they drop Trans Mountain.
Abby Shepard with the College Climate Coalition said: “When insurance companies invest in fossil fuel infrastructure, it’s like they are telling me that my future – our future – doesn’t matter. That making a short-term profit is more important than people’s health and the human rights of the people who live on that land. There is no room for plausible deniability. We know full well that the use of fossil fuels is endangering lives, yet insurance companies continue to invest in them. It’s about time they lived up to the values they promote and invest in a future that is safe and healthy for all.”
Liberty has taken some minimal steps to limit coal business, but these measures have hardly made a dent in the company’s massive fossil fuel insurance portfolio. Liberty executives are also refusing to even sit down and talk to frontline and Indigenous communities that are reaching out to engage in dialogue about fossil fuel and human rights policies.
“Indigenous communities have warned for years that it is not a matter of if but when pipelines will spill. By supporting fossil fuels, Liberty Mutual is directly insuring a future that will lead to drinking water contamination and threaten the way of life of people that are fighting to protect the land and water,” said Melissa Hoffmann, a student activist at Vassar College. “As a student, I believe it is time for insurance companies to finally choose to protect the health and safety of young people and Indigenous communities over profit and climate destruction.”
The world’s top scientists find that we have less than 10 years to transition off fossil fuels, and building any new fossil fuel project is incompatible with keeping warming below catastrophic levels. Yet Liberty continues to provide crucial insurance coverage to new fossil fuel projects and has no plan to phase out support for the declining industry.
“Our economy needs to rapidly scale down our fossil fuel consumption. That means our economy needs to rapidly scale down the financial infrastructure supporting the fossil fuel industry. Liberty Mutual’s insurance bonds help unlock billions of further investment into the industry. That money urgently needs to be redirected into renewable energy infrastructure,” added Gabriel Slaughter with Change the Chamber.