- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 25, 2023

A conservative activist group is taking its anti-ESG advocacy Thursday to the doorsteps of businesses in New York that are part of a U.N. coalition of insurance companies dedicated to ending fossil fuel emissions by 2050.

Consumers’ Research tells The Washington Times it is displaying mobile billboards throughout the day in front of three major insurers urging them to defect from the Net Zero Insurance Alliance during an emergency meeting at U.N. headquarters in New York. The meeting follows several big-name members exiting NZIA out of fear of backlash in the U.S. from Republicans’ campaign against ESG investing.

Before Thursday, four major insurance companies — Swiss Re, Munich Re, Zurich Insurance and Hannover Re — had left the U.N. climate alliance since March amid warnings from 23 attorneys general that the companies’ embrace of environmental, social and corporate governance investing known as ESG could be running afoul of U.S. antitrust laws. The elected officials accuse the companies of colluding to raise insurance rates and contributing to inflation and high energy costs.

But that number rose to at least seven by Thursday, with French insurers Axa SA and Scor SE, in addition to NZIA chair Allianz SE of Germany, quitting the climate initiative, according to Bloomberg.

The mobile billboards from Consumers’ Research target the New York offices of Allianz, England’s Lloyd’s, and Italy’s Generali for them to “call off the collusion” and “leave NZIA now.”

“The Net Zero Insurance Alliance is rightly panicking,”  said Consumers’ Research Executive Director Will Hild.

“U.S. environmental policy should be set by elected officials, not by a handful of foreign insurance companies. Now that NZIA is calling this emergency meeting, it is time for these remaining insurance companies to call off the collusion, leave NZIA and start focusing on their customers,” Mr. Hild said.

The CEO of Lloyd’s told Reuters that the company is staying put in NZIA but that the climate group “needs to have another look at what its objectives are, or the alliance will fall apart.”

Generali, one of NZIA‘s founding members, did not immediately respond to a request for comment about its future with the alliance.

The U.N. Environment Programme, which formed the NZIA in 2021, said this week that the high-profile walkouts were “in light of the recent discussions within the United States” featuring “particularly those with significant US business and exposure.” Six of its founding members — Allianz, Axa, Munich Re, Scor, Swiss Re and Zurich — have now left.

Still, the U.N. group, which does not have any U.S.-based members, said in its public statement that it will not veer away from its support of climate-conscience ESG to combat global warming.

The insurers who ditched NZIA also say they are still committed to climate goals but not as part of the NZIA.

“Regardless of the situation,” the U.N. Environment Programme said, “UNEP reaffirms its conviction ever since it initiated, convened, and launched the NZIA — that in order to successfully tackle the climate emergency, there is a fundamental and urgent need for collaboration, not just individual action.”

Correction: A previous version of this story misstated the location of the demonstrations based on incorrect information provided to The Times. 

• Ramsey Touchberry can be reached at rtouchberry@washingtontimes.com.

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