Graphic courtesy of Indigenous Environmental Network

On October 2nd, climate activists from Europe to the coasts of the United States and Canada took to the streets and virtual spaces as part of “Stop Funding Tar Sands: Day of Solidarity with Frontline Communities.” Organized by Stop the Money Pipeline, coordinated actions targeted asset manager BlackRock, JP Morgan Chase Bank, and insurer Liberty Mutual for funding the Line 3, Trans Mountain, and Keystone XL Pipelines.

UUMFE, along with other organizations, supported the Liberty Mutual campaign by signing onto a letter of support for the Great Plains Tribal Chairmen’s Association’s demands that the company stop insuring the Keystone XL pipeline immediately and meet with Indigenous leaders. The Great Plains Tribal Chairman’s Association represents the sixteen tribal leaders representing all the native nations within the area of what is currently South Dakota, North Dakota, and Nebraska. These nations have fought Keystone XL and the expansion of tar sands oil projects from crossing their territories for more than a decade. Thousands of climate activists and citizens signed online petitions demanding the same which were delivered to the company’s Boston headquarters on October 2nd.

Often, I’m asked, “Does it really matter? Will it make a difference?” 

Lasting change can result from the cumulative effect of strategic, targeted campaigns like this when the demands are clear, relationships of accountability are pursued, and public pressure is sustained. Yes, it takes more than UUMFE’s one letter, or my signature on a petition, or “like” a call to action or article. It takes all of us – taking whatever actions we can, liking writing those letters, signing those petitions, protesting, supporting the organizations sponsoring the campaigns —  to add those proverbial drops of water one at a time to the bucket.

We know Big Insurance, Big Money, and Big Oil are listening and watching — not just to the activists, but also to their peers in the industry. We know that sustained corporate, peer pressure can be effective in helping create lasting change. I notice that even the Insurance Industry Press took note:  “Liberty Mutual slammed for Tar Sands Involvement.”  Last month, as part of a similar campaign, sustainably-minded business leaders chimed in for the first time, too, with 60 companies calling on insurers to drop fossil fuels and support renewables.  

Learn more about the role of big insurance and the Stop the Money Pipeline campaign from this op-ed co-authored by Rainforest Action Network and campaign managers.