Climate protesters holding a banner reading "Lloyds stop insuring the climate crisis"

Climate campaigners in thirteen cities across the UK coordinated protests on May 17 to demand Lloyd’s of London and its insurers immediately stop insuring coal mines. The campaigners were taking part in the first UK wide day of action to mark the reopening of Lloyd’s offices after the lockdown.

At Lloyd’s, specialist underwriters and insurance companies are grouped together as syndicates that operate globally, insuring around 40% of the global energy market. A significant proportion of this is fossil fuels.

Actions took place in various locations across the UK including London, Manchester, Swansea and Newcastle. The protests were supported by the Coal Action Network – a group which organises for an end to coal-fired power generation, coal extraction and coal imports in the UK, and for justice for communities affected by the UK’s current and historical coal consumption and mining.

Andrew Taylor from Coal Action Network told Bright Green:

Today we saw everyday people in every corner of the UK welcome Lloyd’s and its insurers back to the office with demands to stop putting profit over a liveable planet. We need them to rule out insuring deadly coal projects today, not next year or 2030.

One of the key projects protesters have mobilised around is the West Cumbria coal mine. Lloyd’s have refused to rule out insuring the project. If the project goes ahead, it will be the first deep coal mine planned in the UK for over 30 years. And Coal Action Network claim that if the West Cumbria mine goes ahead it will leave the steel industry locked in to burning coal for production.

While no insurer in the Lloyd’s marketplace is currently insuring the West Cumbria coal mine, they have so far ignored community requests to rule out insuring it and associated infrastructure outright.

Rebecca one of the protesters in Newcastle said:

Campaigners here in the North East understand that coal is people’s proud heritage, but not their future. Time and time again, we’ve made it clear, saying no to open casts that would wreck the local environment. Now we stand in solidarity with the calls of people in Cumbria and indigenous people in Australia and demand that Lloyd’s drop insuring coal mining, and start insuring our future instead

Taylor added:

Last month, Lloyd’s of London cancelled a meeting to discuss its insurance of fossil fuels. Community members from Cumbria and Australia were keen to talk to Lloyd’s about its ESG policy on coal, alongside people from the Pacific Islands whose homes are disappearing due to sea level rise. After waiting months, at the last minute Lloyd’s backed out. That’s why we’ve now decided to come to them.

This isn’t the first time Lloyd’s has been the target of climate protesters. In September 2020, campaigners from Insure Our Future protested outside the insurance marketplace’s HQ demanding it “wash its hands” of both coal and tar sands.

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