A photo of the Extinction Rebellion blockade of Lloyds of London HQ with activists holding a banner reading "insure climate justice"

Over 60 Extinction Rebellion activists have blocked the entrances of Lloyd’s of London’s headquarters, preventing staff from entering the building. Campaigners say they are seeking to close the London based insurance and reinsurance giant for the day. Extinction Rebellion is demanding that Lloyd’s of London stop insuring fossil fuels projects.

People used superglue, chains and bike locks, to block over twenty-five entrances to the building. Staff already inside were allowed to exit. Climbers also scaled the outside of the iconic building and dropped two banners, saying ‘End Fossil Fuels Now’ and ‘Insure Climate Justice’. Others stuck stickers on the windows that said ‘Stop Insuring Trans Mountain’.

Clare Walmsley, a spokesperson from Extinction Rebellion, said:

We’re here to demand an end to all new fossil fuel investments and insurance. By underwriting the world’s most deadly fossil fuel projects, they are creating climate chaos – floods, famine, wildfires and death. Insuring new oil and gas projects in the North Sea, which was part of the government’s energy strategy, does nothing to solve the cost of living crisis. Instead, it locks us into a system that’s already pushing millions into poverty.

We can see from Lloyd’s long racist history, that it’s always been happy to trade lives for profit. Its business was kickstarted by insuring the trans-Atlantic slave trade. Today its underwriters support projects that sacrifice Indigenous, Black and brown communities on the frontlines of fossil fuel extraction and climate breakdown.

The action is part of a wider mobilisation demanding an end to fossil fuel extraction and comes after ten days of ongoing disruption across the UK from Extinction Rebellion and the Just Stop Oil coalition. Both groups have vowed to continue disruption until the government stops all new fossil fuel investments.

Craig Welsby, a spokesperson from Extinction Rebellion, said:

Lloyd’s CEO John Neil isn’t just refusing to take action to avoid climate breakdown, but is actively blocking efforts by other members of the Lloyd’s team to take action. In 2022 Lloyd’s unveiled a policy that would have seen the most polluting fossil fuels, coal and tar sand, blacklisted from the marketplace. Instead, we’re now told their policy isn’t worth the paper it’s written on. To safeguard a liveable planet, we need to stop fossil fuel expansion today, not recklessly squeeze every last bit of profit.

Chief among the fossil fuel projects highlighted by Extinction Rebellion campaigners is the Trans Mountain Pipeline extension in Canada, which campaigners believe is being insured through the Lloyd’s marketplace. The Trans Mountain Pipeline in Canada has faced opposition by Indigenous communities whose land it cuts through, and would allow a dramatic increase in the amount of tar sands Canada could export, shipping 590,000 barrels per day of tar sands crude. Lloyd’s of London is amongst the insurers listed on the project’s most recent public certificate. Lloyd’s and the syndicates that operate in its marketplace have been under intense pressure to rule out underwriting the project, with sixteen insurers taking action and cutting ties with the project.

Kayah George of Tsleil-Waututh Nation and Tulalip Tribes, said:

The Trans Mountain tar sands pipeline threatens my nation and our sacred Sleilwaut (Burrard) inlet; our place of creation. The pipeline poisons our clam beds and violates the rights of many Indigenous communities along its length and at its source. Expanding tar sands extraction and increasing the capacity of the Trans Mountain pipeline network is nothing less than climate destruction.

To date, 16 companies have ruled out insuring the Trans Mountain expansion project, but insurers on the Lloyd’s of London marketplace likely remain as the pipeline’s lead insurers. The Lloyd’s marketplace and syndicates like Arch urgently need to get the message: it’s time to move away from dirty fossil fuels and instead uplift Indigenous rights, a healthy environment, and a stable climate.

At Lloyd’s of London, specialist underwriters and insurance companies, grouped together as syndicates, operate globally, insuring around 40% of the global energy market. A very large part of this is fossil fuels. Lloyd’s is a central part of the wider London insurance market, writing more than half of its total premium. The London Market Group reported that, in 2018, the combined London insurance market accounted for 55% of global energy sector insurance premiums.

From 1640 to the early 19th century, an estimated 3.1 million enslaved African people were transported by Britain’s vast shipping industry – and Lloyd’s was the global centre for insuring that industry.[5]

Lloyd’s has come under increasing pressure to end its underwriting of fossil fuel projects from local people, scientists, and climate protesters across the globe. Previous protests have included a tipper truck to dumping a large pile of fake coal outside the entrance, green paint being thrown over the building, spilling 1,000 litres of fake and a climate memorial led by Pacific Islanders, who had travelled to the UK for the COP26 climate talks.

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