Insurance giant AIG joins movement against financing Arctic oil development

Published: Mar. 3, 2022 at 4:43 PM AKST
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - New Arctic energy explorative activities will no longer be supported by the insurance giant American International Group, Inc.

AIG is one of the worlds largest insurance companies, and will no longer support services or investments for new coal-fired plants, coal mines, or drilling in the Arctic as AIG CEO Peter Zaffino stated in a press release that “AIG is focused on the realities of climate change. The data about climate change is unambiguous and we believe that AIG can be a catalyst for positive change.”

The decision comes from AIG in an effort to achieve net zero greenhouse emissions by 2050 or sooner in both their underwriting and investment portfolios as well as within their own operations. The decision is getting mixed reviews here in Alaska.

The Wilderness Society, a group that lobbied for financial institutions to make these changes, says oil development commonly threatens Indigenous communities and destroys sacred land. They also stated that the Arctic is ground zero for climate change. Temperatures in the Arctic Circle are rising at four times the rate as the rest of the planet. Melting permafrost is threatening villages and food sources are disappearing. Organizational Lead of the Alaska Wilderness Society Karlin Itchoak feels that AIG’s decision will have positive benefits for the environment.

“While everyone recognizes the need for jobs and a healthy economy, we must protect our climate and respect the human rights of Indigenous people as we transition to an economy that isn’t dependent on fossil fuels,” Itchoak said.

CEO of The Alaska Support Industry Alliance Rebecca Logan says that AIG’s decision is nothing new, but still disappointing. Their organization supports oil exploration, but focuses on education and how to do it safely. Logan said she feels that these decisions are politically based and prevent responsible resource development.

“Oil, gas, and critical strategic minerals are going to be developed somewhere in the world,” Logan said. “We should all be trying to do them here because nobody does it better than we do and more responsibly. So it just makes a broader group that we have to get that message out to.”

AIG is not alone. Other insurance companies around the world have made similar announcements to not support drilling in ANWR, as well as several major banks in the United States.

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