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SOMPO: Stop Underwriting Rio Grande LNG

Japanese insurance major’s support for the controversial gas project draws protests at annual general meeting 

TOKYO, JAPAN – JUNE 24, 2024 – Today, environmental NGOs including Rainforest Action Network and the Japan Center for a Sustainable Environment and Society gathered in front of SOMPO’s Annual General Meeting (AGM) to demand the Japanese insurance giant stop underwriting the Rio Grande LNG project. The protest comes on the heels of a letter signed by 28 civil society organisations from the United States, Japan, and other countries to SOMPO’s CEO, Mr. Mikio Okumura, urging the company to stop underwriting and investing in this highly controversial LNG export terminal being planned in Brownsville, Texas, United States and all oil, gas, and coal projects around the world.

If built, Rio Grande LNG would damage the sacred lands of the Carrizo/Comecrudo Tribe, where burials, village remains, and discrete shell working areas reside. This is a violation of human rights according to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Rio Grande LNG will also be a carbon bomb projected to emit Greenhouse gases (GHG) equivalent to 43 coal plants annually, pollute the air and water of neighboring communities, and destroy natural habitats of threatened species such as Ocelot, Northern Aplomado Falcon, Rice’s Whale, and Kemp’s Ridley Sea Turtle. 

“Our community and the Carrizo/Comecrudo Tribe of Texas have made it clear that we oppose Rio Grande LNG and any LNG facility in our region because these fossil fuel projects would destroy our way of life that depends on a clean environment and fishing and shrimping. Sompo must immediately withdraw from Rio Grande LNG because staying involved would be just another example of a corporation forcing their will and pollution on low-income people of color and Indigenous communities.” — Bekah Hinojosa, South Texas Environmental Justice Network  

“If Sompo is serious about climate impacts and risk, then they should end their underwriting and support for fossil fuel projects. Sompo is a main insurer of Rio Grande LNG, a proposed methane export terminal located in southern Texas, USA. This project would harm Indigenous sacred sites, wetlands, the fishing community, increase greenhouse gas emissions and build over an undeveloped coastline. Sompo can begin today by ending support for Rio Grande LNG.” —Ruth Breech, Senior Campaigner on Climate & Energy, Rainforest Action Network 

On 21 June 2024, SOMPO announced a new policy to expand the area in the Arctic*1 where it will no longer underwrite or invest in fossil fuel extraction projects, and tighten up the coal company*2 screening threshold. 

“SOMPO’s policy on oil and gas is extremely limited, targeting only oil sands and energy extraction activities in the Arctic as defined by the Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme (AMAP). This leaves room for underwriting fossil fuel projects that will continue to emit large amounts of greenhouse gases, which is not aligned with the Paris Agreement’s 1.5ºC target. We strongly urge SOMPO to stop underwriting new fossil fuel projects, including the Rio Grande LNG project.”— Yuki Tanabe, Director of the Sustainable Development and Aid Program at the Japan Center for a Sustainable Environment and Society (JACSES) 

SOMPO failed to protect our climate, but also human rights. This is against its own Group Policy for Human Rights. Insure Our Future network will continue to work on fossil fuel insurers to take accountability for climate injustice. 


Notes for the editor:

*1 Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme area (AMAP) except Norwegian territories

*2 Defined as companies that derive at least 20% (used to be 30%) of their revenues from coal-fired power generation, thermal coal mines, or oil sands, or electric utilities companies that generate at least 20% of their energy from coal.

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