Lloyd’s of London attempts to shift AGM online to avoid climate protesters
Insurance market Lloyd’s of London is urging members to watch its annual general meeting from home next week, amid fears it will be the latest City event disrupted by climate protests. The chair of Lloyd’s, Bruce Carnegie-Brown, warned about the potential for disruption at the 19 May AGM back in April but said in an updated memo that the risk of disruption had significantly increased.
“To ensure the safety and security of our members and to allow the meeting to proceed in an orderly and fair manner, it is with regret that I must now strongly encourage all members attending the AGM to join virtually and not to attempt to enter the Lloyd’s Building on that day,” Brown said in a notice aimed at the market’s close to 100 syndicate members.
The warning comes nearly a month after Lloyd’s was forced to close the doors of its landmark Grade I-listed building at One Lime Street when more than 60 protesters from Extinction Rebellion (XR) used superglue, chains, and bicycle locks to block workers from entering. Lloyd’s has pledged that members will phase out all existing insurance policies for fossil fuel projects by 2030, but activists say the policy does not go far enough.
“We are committed to nonviolently disrupting business as usual until Lloyd’s of London ends its underwriting of fossil fuels,” a spokesperson for XR said. “Instead of trying to hide from public anger by shifting their AGM online, Lloyd’s needs to be brave, take bold action, and stop insuring morally hazardous projects.”
XR claimed its protests were already prompting change, with two Lloyd’s syndicates cutting ties with Canada’s controversial Trans Mountain pipeline since April. A string of City institutions, including HSBC, Barclays, and Standard Chartered, have already had their AGMs disrupted by climate protesters in the past month.
Activists at Standard Chartered’s AGM chanted and wore masks the depicting chief executive, Bill Winters, with devil horns as part of efforts to raise the alarm over the banking group’s climate track record. Meanwhile, protesters were forcibly removed from Barclays’ AGM in Manchester after gluing themselves to chairs, setting off alarms, and delaying the start of the event for nearly an hour.
“Lloyd’s faces a growing level of protests because, as the world’s largest insurance market, they have a responsibility to act in accordance with climate science and the recommendations of the IEA [International Energy Agency] – and they are failing to do so,” said Lindsay Keenan, European coordinator of the Insure Our Future climate campaign.
“Despite what Bruce Carnegie-Brown would like you to believe, the reality is that Lloyd’s continues to provide insurance for new coal, oil and gas projects despite its supposed ESG [environmental, social and governance] policy.”
Lloyd’s did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Kalyeena Makortoff Banking correspondent | Guardian
Photograph: Henry Nicholls/Reuters