Jones to oil state AGs threatening lawsuit against Climate Initiative – bring it on
News: 2017 Press Release
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones fired back, in a strongly worded letter, to the 12 oil state attorneys general and one governor from oil and coal states such as Texas and Oklahoma who recently threatened to sue him if he did not stop his Climate Risk Carbon Initiative asking insurers to voluntarily divest from thermal coal investments and requiring that insurers publicly disclose their investments in coal, oil, gas, and utilities, which face climate-related risks.
"I am not deterred by threats of lawsuits from attorneys general of 12 oil and coal states who find it politically popular to deny the reality of climate change," said Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones. "We will continue our Climate Risk Carbon Initiative—it is a sound regulatory effort based on considerable evidence of climate-related financial risks to fossil fuel investments."
As the regulator of the nation's largest insurance market, one of Commissioner Jones' primary responsibilities includes making sure insurance companies are financially sound and able to deliver on their promises to pay policyholder claims. That responsibility, coupled with the volatility of carbon-based investments, in particular coal, has led him to request insurers to publicly disclose investments that are at risk of becoming "stranded assets" as governments may increasingly restrict the use of fossil fuels, and consumers and businesses potentially move away from relying on fossil fuels.
Jones is not the only financial regulator with concerns about climate related financial risks, although he is one of the first to require public disclosure of fossil fuel invests and to ask insurers to voluntarily divest. The G-20 Financial Stability Board, the Prudential Regulatory Authority of the Bank of England, insurance regulators across the globe, institutional and private investors, and many others, have called for disclosure by insurers of climate-related risks. Just this week, the Sustainable Insurance Forum issued a statement from international insurance regulators announcing support the Financial Stability Board's climate disclosure recommendations.
Commissioner Jones also wrote a letter responding to multiple state insurance commissioners regarding his initiative.
Led by Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara, the California Department of Insurance is the consumer protection agency for the nation's largest insurance marketplace and safeguards all of the state’s consumers by fairly regulating the insurance industry. Under the Commissioner’s direction, the Department uses its authority to protect Californians from insurance rates that are excessive, inadequate, or unfairly discriminatory, oversee insurer solvency to pay claims, set standards for agents and broker licensing, perform market conduct reviews of insurance companies, resolve consumer complaints, and investigate and prosecute insurance fraud. Consumers are urged to call 1-800-927-4357 with any questions or contact us at www.insurance.ca.gov via webform or online chat. Non-media inquiries should be directed to the Consumer Hotline at 800-927-4357. Teletypewriter (TTY), please dial 800-482-4833.