UK students pledge ‘career boycott’ of insurers over fossil fuels
Hundreds of students and recent graduates of top UK universities are pledging a “career boycott” of major insurers, saying they will not work for firms including Lloyd’s of London if they support controversial fossil fuel projects.
More than 500 current and recent students from the University of Oxford, University of Cambridge, University College London, University of Edinburgh and others have warned they will keep a close eye on firms that fail to shift to climate-friendly policies.
“We refuse to put our professional careers at the service of climate wreckers that insure those responsible for the climate crisis,” the letter – sent to insurance market Lloyd’s of London, as well as individual firms including Beazley, Hiscox, Chaucer and Tokio Marine Kiln – said. “Insurers’ lack of action on climate change will cost them talented workers.”
A Deloitte survey recently found that more than half of Gen Z recruits tended to research a brand’s environmental impact and policies before accepting a job, while one in six have already changed jobs or sectors over climate concerns. A further 25% say they plan to move roles because of their employers’ climate impact in the future.
The letter comes before the Lloyd’s of London annual general meeting in London on Thursday, where bosses have already warned they are expecting protests, which are likely to include climate activists.
The students’ letter explained signatories would pay particular attention to insurers that decide to work with TotalEnergies and Equinor, which they said were currently seeking insurance for the East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP) – scheduled to transport oil from Uganda to Tanzania – and the Rosebank oilfield – which is the largest undeveloped oilfield in the North Sea.
The students noted that nearly two dozen insurers had already ruled out supporting the African pipeline, including several that worked within the of Lloyd’s of London market. “Since 2017, at least 41 insurers have adopted restrictions on underwriting coal, 22 on tar sands and 13 on conventional oil and gas. But Lloyd’s of London and many Lloyd’s managing agents are lagging behind and putting our lives at risk by continuing to insure oil and gas,” the letter stated.
Sacha Ruello, a 21-year-old political studies student from University College London, said that while she was keeping an open mind about what career she might pursue after her final year of university, she would turn down any recruiter from insurers supporting the expansion of fossil fuels.
She said: “Fossil fuel companies can only develop projects such as the EACOP or Rosebank because they are supported by financial companies, especially insurance companies, and students and young graduates are aware of the responsibility of these companies in the climate crisis.
“Therefore, if they hope to recruit us, they must refuse to insure EACOP, Rosebank, and any new fossil fuel projects, and we will not offer them our labour force until they do,” she said.
Brit Insurance declined to comment. Lloyd’s of London, Beazley, Hiscox, Chaucer and Tokio Marine Kiln did not respond to requests for comment.