AXIS Capital Holdings Ltd. said it will not insure oil and gas projects in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, becoming the first North American underwriter to sign up after pressure from Alaskans and environmentalists.
The move follows similar commitments from AXA SA and Swiss Re AG in France, and comes as indigenous tribes living in Alaska and Canada push investors, oil companies and insurers to end their support for drilling. tanker in the Arctic.
“We believe climate-related risks are among the most serious problems facing the world today,” wrote Conrad Brooks, general counsel and general secretary of Bermuda-based AXIS Capital, in a letter to Gwich’in Steering Committee, which represents the tribes of Alaska and Canada. “We also recognize the importance of the National Arctic Wildlife Refuge to you and your families, and to our planet.
Brooks said AXIS will not purchase new insurance, offer optional reinsurance contracts, or provide investment support for projects involved in the exploration, production or transportation of oil and gas. gas in the refuge.
The move is one of several steps AXIS is taking to improve its environmental and climate strategy, Brooks said. The company already has a limited underwriting of thermal coal and oil sands projects.
The rugged Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in northeast Alaska has become the latest front in a fight for oil drilling. When the Trump administration auctioned off rights to drill in the refuge’s coastal plain last week, only two oil companies bid alongside an Alaskan economic development company that spent around $ 12 million. dollars to find leases on behalf of the state. President-elect Joe Biden has pledged to permanently protect the refuge, home to polar bears, caribou herds and other wildlife – and one of the fastest warming places on earth.
“The recent lease sale ignored all of our concerns and dismissed the climate crisis, but AXIS’s engagement today shows that other companies agree with us and respect us,” said Bernadette Demientieff, Managing Director Executive of the Gwich’in Steering Committee. “We need more companies to support us, to respect our human rights and our way of life.”
Copyright 2021 Bloomberg.
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