Eve of COP26 Climate Talks Marked with Memorial, Protests and “Oil” Dumps at Lloyd’s of London Entrance & AIG in Brussels

Protesters from Coal Action Network set up a climate justice memorial at Lloyd’s of London to remember communities on the front lines of climate breakdown who are directly impacted by harmful projects and climate impacts. The memorial involved hundreds of flowers and floral wreaths being laid outside. Flowers with over 600 individual messages from people across the UK were handed out to staff going in and out of the Lloyd’s building. Staff were asked to speak to senior management in Lloyd’s about ruling out insuring all fossil fuels, as well as, various fossil fuel projects including the Adani Coal mine, tar sands TransMountain pipeline, West Cumbria coal mine, and the Cambo oilfields. The group also called for Lloyd’s to pay compensation for climate impacts. This action is the latest to target Lloyd’s of London and the memorial is the first of many being planned.

Today, on the eve of COP26 climate talks, Coal Action Network were joined by Youth Strikers from across the world and the Pacific Climate Warriors, to set up a climate justice memorial at Lloyd’s of London HQ (1 Lyme Street). The climate memorial was created to remember communities on the front lines of climate breakdown, who are being directly impacted by harmful projects and climate impacts.

Staff were asked to speak to senior management in Lloyd’s about ruling out insuring all fossil fuels, as well as, various fossil fuel projects including the Adani Coal mine, tar sands TransMountain pipeline, West Cumbria coal mine, and the Cambo oilfields. The group also called on Lloyd’s to rule out any possible involvement with the Silvertown Tunnel, and for Lloyd’s to pay compensation for climate impacts.

The Coal Action Network memorial was a call to raise awareness of and remember those whose lives are being destroyed by the crisis.

Elara from Coal Action Network said “Through the memorial brought to life the memories of every person harmed by the injustices of the climate crisis. We’ve laid wreaths naming climate wrecking projects we want Lloyd’s of London to rule out underwriting today, and help to prevent billions of lives being destroyed by climate impacts. Lloyd’s needs to stop ignoring the climate science and communities being affected by climate breakdown.”

Lloyd’s of London is an insurance market, composed of many underwriters and insurance companies. Lloyd’s is known for insuring projects that no one else will, which increasingly includes climate-destroying fossil fuel projects, making it a major global energy insurer and as well as the peaceful memorial, the location also saw a separate climate protest from Insurance Rebellion where 1000L of fake ‘oil’ was dumped at the entrance.

In the global day of action organised by Defund Climate Chaos, protestors from Insurance Rebellion also spilled 1000L of fake oil on the doorstep at fellow insurer AIG in Brussels just an hour later.  The group held banners saying “Here AIG insures climate disaster”, cordoned off the area with “Climate Crime Scene” tape, and let off bright red flares. AIG is one of the world’s top insurers of coal, oil and gas, and one of the few global insurers that has yet to adopt a single policy to restrict insuring or investing in fossil fuels.

A spokesperson for Insurance Rebellion, Eve West, said: “I was shocked when I found out that this institution wasn’t just insuring fossil fuels, but insuring the theft of indigenous land illegally stolen by Canada’s government. Canada’s own courts have ruled that the Canadian Government’s actions are unlawful, but Lloyd’s still facilitates tar sands extraction on these lands. There’s an 83% chance of a catastrophic oil spill at the Trans Mountain Pipeline sites on Tsleil-Waututh Nation land in Canada – this is an existential threat to their people and way of life, and Lloyd’s of London doesn’t care one bit as long as it gets its bespoke insurance premiums from the relevant oil companies. We hope our oil spill at their headquarters helps them think about this.”

This protest was just one of hundreds taking place across the world today as part of the Defund Climate Chaos day of action, which are being led by youth strikers. In their call to action published in Teen Vogue, youth leaders said: “We called on world leaders to listen to science and frontline communities and to treat climate change as what it is: an existential threat to humanity. Yet, governments and corporate leaders have failed to act. As we get older, as climate change becomes more dire, our movement is only getting smarter and more determined.”

Protesters at Lloydswere joined by 20 Friday for Future MAPA (Most Affected People and Areas) youth strikers from some communities most affected by climate change globally (including Bangladesh, Philippines, Argentina, Nigeria). Members of the Pacific Climate Warriors who have been calling on Lloyd’s to stop insuring the Adani Carmichael coal mine, brought flowers native to the Pacific Islands to add to the memorial. Representatives gave testimonies from their communities, which included those on the front lines of fossil fuel projects and climate impacts.

Joseph Sikulu from Pacific Climate Warriors said “Our communities grapple with climate impacts everyday. As sea levels rise we risk losing everything. The insurance industry should also understand the business risks of climate change. Climate fueled disasters like hurricanes and wildfires are costing the industry billions. It is in our shared interests to act by stopping the major driver of global warming: coal. Lloyd’s of London must show leadership now and act on the climate crisis by refusing insurance for climate wrecking coal projects like Adani’s Carmichael mine in Australia.”

Farzana Faruk Jhumu is a Youth Striker from Bangladesh in attendance at the Memorial in London: “I am in the UK to ask the banks and companies to decolonise their business. UK companies like Lloyds of London are supporting fossil fuels and we want them to shift this to renewable energy. Lloyds of London needs to sort out their act. “

In 2020, Lloyd’s published an Environmental, Social and Governance Report. Campaigners said today that its commitments are not enough. Lloyd’s still allows members to acquire new business in these sectors, and is continuing to provide them cover until 2030. There is no mention of insurance and investment in coking coal, or other gas and oil projects, despite Lloyd’s being amongst the four largest insurers of fossil fuel projects. Further information on how Lloyd’s of London helps fuel the climate crisis can be found at: https://insureourfuture.co/fossil-fuels-insurance/what-is-lloyds-of-london-and-how-does-it-help-fuel-the-climate-crisis/.

Members of the public also joined the memorial, and laid hundreds of flowers. Messages to Lloyd’s of London from over 4,500 people across the world were hung outside the offices, as well as delivered to Lloyd’s Chairman, Bruce Carnegie Brown. These messages are also viewable online at: https://lloydsmemorial.netlify.app/.

Elara from Coal Action Network said “The climate crisis is harming the poorest and least responsible of us first and worst. The blame falls squarely at the feet of executives at corporations like Lloyd’s of London. Day after day they decide to profit from death and chaos, by underwriting projects that will lead to climate breakdown, while refusing to insure everyday people against the floods and wildfires they are helping to create.”

Patience Nabakalu, is a youth climate justice activist from Uganda, was in attendance at the Memorial because of having to live with climate breakdown:  “We live a life of floods every day, and I am traumatised by it. I couldn’t go to school because of flooding. I learned that this all happens because of climate change. I had no option but to wake up and act.”

Lindsay Keenan, European Co-ordinator for the global campaign network Insure our Future said “We tried for at least 6 months to engage Lloyds in negotiations about its climate policy. Lloyds approach to the climate and its ongoing insurance of the world’s worst fossil fuel projects is greenwash, delay, and business as usual. Frankly Lloyds is a disgrace and needs much more public and regulatory attention to make its senior managers start to take climate science and its responsibilities seriously.”

Coal Action Network also facilitated a climate memorial in Newcastle at the offices of Lloyd’s syndicate Chubb insurance this afternoon.