The Hartford Commits $2.5B To Carbon-Free Energy, To End Tar Sands Investments
Hartford Courant (CT)
The Hartford Financial Services Group Inc. announced Tuesday that it anticipates exiting all tar sands investments by Dec. 31, two years ahead of its commitment announced in 2019.
The insurance and financial services giant, detailing updated environmental policies on several fronts, also said that it did not expect to exit coal-investment holdings earlier than by the end of 2023, as previously announced.
It’s joining scores of financial institutions with assets under management or loans outstanding larger than $10 billion that are restricting fossil-fuel business with oil, liquefied natural gas, oil sands and arctic drilling, according to the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis.
The Hartford also said it would spend $2.5 billion over five years on technologies, companies and funds to advance efforts moving away from carbon-based power.
And it will join other companies as a signatory to the United Nations Global Compact, a corporate initiative to promote sustainable energy.
“As a 211-year-old insurer and asset manager, we view the transition to a greener society as a business imperative, and we are doing our part,” said Chief Executive Officer Christopher Swift.
Canadian tar sands — a mixture of sand, water, clay and a type of oil called bitumen — have taken a hit with the decision by President Joe Biden early this year to reject the Keystone XL pipeline. It would have transported the carbon-intensive oil from Alberta, Canada, to Nebraska where it would meet with pipelines to move further south to oil refineries in the Gulf Coast.
Jay Averill, spokesman for the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, said demand for natural gas and oil is rising rapidly, “with significant investments for growth” in oil and natural gas development.
“Decisions like the one made by The Hartford Financial Services Group do nothing to impact global demand for oil and natural gas but only serve to drive investment away from responsible energy developing nations like Canada,” he said in an email.
The Hartford announced in January 2020 that it would halt insurance coverage of companies that post 25 percent or more in revenue from thermal coal mining and more than 25 percent of energy production from coal. It also will not write policies or make investments in companies that generate more than 25 percent of revenue directly from extracting oil from tar sands.
The Rainforest Action Network, which is pressuring insurers to drop coverage of fossil-fuel power plants, said at the time that The Hartford was the “first mainstream U.S. insurer” to restrict coverage for tar sands oil and coal.
But it said its policy had some loopholes and urged The Hartford to rule out insurance for new tar sands pipelines and other tar sands transport projects because the insurer’s policy applied only to tar sands extraction companies.
Activists also called on The Hartford to rule out insurance for new coal mines in addition to coal-fired power plants and to restrict all companies helping to expand tar sands and coal.